Another attempt to bulldoze a handsome York pub has been foiled, thanks to a national planning inspector.
The Carlton Tavern on Acomb Road was first threatened by plans to demolish it last year, in order to make way for a modern luxury care home.
But after a huge public outcry, protests by national heritage groups – and two fraught council meetings – that proposal was thrown out by a single vote of the planning committee in December.
The owner of the Victorian building, pub chain Marston’s, had agreed to sell the site to Crown Care.
When its plan for a three and four-storey, 74 bedroom care home was rejected, Crown Care appealed the decision. If it had won, the Carlton would have been a goner.
But that appeal has been thrown out – as has their claim for costs.
‘Clearly valued by locals’
Planning inspector Alison Partington released her ruling on the appeal today (Wednesday August 22).
In this she agreed that York needed more care homes, and that “the site is a good location for a care home”. But she wrote:
It is clear from the large number of letters from third parties that the Carlton Tavern is a place that a significant number of local residents clearly value as a family friendly place to meet socially, and have meals as well as a drink.
The value the community place on the facility is also reflected in its listing as an Asset of Community Value.
And she went on:
Whilst I understand that the brewery that owns the public house does not see it as part of their long term business plan, there is no indication that the public house, which is still trading, is not a viable business.
Nor is there any evidence to indicate that the public house has undergone any form of marketing exercise.
As such, there is insufficient evidence to show that the property could not continue to trade profitably as a public house, and thus that the loss of the public house can be considered to be necessary in this respect.
However, she accepted that there were other pubs offering the same service in the area and so considered “that the proposal would not result in the unacceptable loss of an asset of community value”.
Later in her ruling she said the Victorian villa was a heritage asset and “the demolition of the building would harm the character and appearance of the area”. She also ruled that the development would “potentially have an adverse impact on protected trees”.
Ms Partington wrote:
The demolition of the public house would be irreversible and the harm permanent. In addition, the appeal scheme would have a detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the area.
All in all, I find that the adverse impacts would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.
The decision to reject Crown Care’s appeal was warmly welcomed in York. “Excellent decision by the planning inspectorate backing up the CYC planning committee’s – eventual – refusal,” said independent York councillor Mark Warters.
As York Camra’s pub protection officer Nick Love submitted a detailed submission to planners on why it should be saved. He said today:
It’s a massive boost for local campaigners who fought tooth and nail to preserve this heritage asset for future generations.
We’re particularly pleased that the inspector agreed with us that although Marstons didn’t see it as part of their future plans it didn’t mean that it wasn’t a viable pub moving forward under the right business model.
It shows how out of touch Marstons have been with the local community who opposed their scheme from the start. They should do the right thing and sell the pub to the local community at market value.
An offer has gone to Marston’s from a group of local business people. They want to buy the Carlton, and keep it as a not-for-profit community hub, incorporating holiday lets and accommodation on the first floor, and a microbrewery, restaurant, café and deli on the ground floor.
Marstons said they wouldn’t negotiate with other parties until the planning process was over. Now it is.