Plans to demolish a York pub have been lodged with City of York Council.

Developers want to knock down The Magnet Hotel on Osbaldwick Lane, and build nine terraced houses in its place.


The news has dismayed local people and pub champions who have started a campaign to save the 1930s pub.

Strensall-based Moorside Developments are behind the plan. They argue that the Magnet is no longer viable as a public house – but campaigners argue that in the right hands it could be a community asset again.

Closed last year

The rear of the pub
YorkMix first reported in September there were fears the Magnet was set for demolition.

Workers were seen cutting down trees and shrubs to the rear of the building and boarding up its windows.

Today, those first-floor windows left unboarded are broken, and a smashed panel of glass is seen on one side.

The Magnet closed in April, and owner Enterprise Inns sold it on. Under recent legislation planning permission is required before any pub in England can be demolished.

One of the smashed first floor windows

In their submission to City of York Council the developers say that 476 pubs closed in the first six months of 2018, showing that there is shrinking demand.

“The fact that The Magnet did not attract a successful sale on the basis that it would continue to trade as a pub/hotel is clearly a powerful argument that there is no future for the application site in this form…

“The benefits to the public of the delivery of a significant number of desirably sized properties will be far greater than a run-down pub.”

‘This has to stop’

‘There’s always more at… the Magnet’
Independent councillor for the Osbaldwick and Derwent Ward Mark Warters had worked with an interested party who wanted to buy The Magnet and redevelop it as a pub for the local community but sadly that plan fell through.

Now he is leading the campaign to save the building.

He told YorkMix that the demolition plan was typical of those who seize “on the pub-co estates’ cast offs when they come up for sale”:

  • There is no consideration of the architectural merit or history of the building, but just a desire to maximise profit by demolishing a building on the Local List – then shoehorn as many bland houses onto the site as possible.

    I would urge anyone who feels strongly about the loss of the Magnet either for its architectural merit and history or its community value to submit an objection either direct to City of York Council planning [ref. 18/02670/FUL], to myself as ward councillor, to Osbaldwick Parish Council or to Nick Love at Camra.

    This has to stop, it’ll be your pub or club next!

Camra fight plans

Could it be saved and become a popular pub again?
Pub protection officer at York Camra Nick Love said: “The situation with The Magnet proves that pub protection within York is still a vital and relevant issue.”

He added:

  • York CAMRA will be fighting this application for demolition as we did successfully when opposing the conversion of The Jubilee into flats.

    Just because Enterprise Inns (EI) couldn’t make a go of the pub when it was a tied house doesn’t mean that it’s unviable as a community local in the right hands with the right business model.

    The new owners will have to provide clear proof that the pub couldn’t be reopened and sustainable given there’s not a plethora of other public houses in the area and a big local catchment area.

Nick has registered to speak at the inspector hearings for the York Local Plan. He says pub protection wording was absent within the submitted plan “despite the ruling executive passing a resolution that pub-specific wording should be included”.

“I’m hopeful that the inspector can agree to retrospectively insert such wording into the plan – as happened recently in Barnsley.”

Recycling plan

A smashed glass panel at the pub
In the planning documents, Moorside Developments say they plan to build nine new terraced houses on the site, six two-bed and three three-bed, together with parking spaces, cycle and bin storage.

And they say the demolition will be “eco-friendly”, with the roof slates, bricks, timber and steel recycled.

They say the pub was built as primarily a drinking venue. “Nowadays different attributes are called for as pubs are places for families which often include conservatory dining rooms, playrooms etc, sites need to to have a lot of space for all this and really need to be in attractive places.

“This site has neither the space or location to provide for this.”

The Magnet

Card image cap

The Magnet was built in 1934 John Smith’s Brewery architect Sir Bertram Wilson.

Nominated for the York Local List by CAMRA because it is the best surviving example in York of an inter-war ‘improved’ pub, purpose-built to serve the surrounding new housing estate.

CAMRA comment that the snug has its original furniture and is largely unaltered; the bar notably retains its arched back fitting and bench seating; while the lounge, though altered, retains original woodwork beneath modern veneer.

Also of particular interest is a glazed dividing screen and tilework to an obsolete outsales, and tilework in the gents toilet.

Source: York Local List