York pub saved! Flats plan is shelved – for five months at least

Another owner soon?
31 Aug 2016 @ 7.40 pm
| Food & drink, Opinion

It is a victory for common sense – and for the campaign to save The Jubilee. Plans to turn it into flats have been shelved and the owners have had to put it back on the market for sale as a pub.

City of York Council had to rule on whether to grant planning permission for a change of use. The officer concerned decided after careful consideration that the York pub had not been sufficiently marketed to give it a fair chance of being sold as a going concern.

In short, the vendors had no other option.

This means that effectively the planning application to turn the pub into luxury flats and make a huge profit for the owners is now on ice for a period of five months. Hopefully permanently!

This is a timescale the planning officer thinks appropriate to see whether there is interest in purchasing the pub and making a go of it.

A future for the pub

Viable with the right business model: the Jubilee on Balfour Street
Viable with the right business model: the Jubilee on Balfour Street

As CAMRA’s pub protection officer and a member of “Friends of The Jubilee” I was involved in writing the document that we submitted in objection to the planning application.

We consulted with local residents and customers who used the Balfour Street pub before it was cynically prematurely closed by Enterprise Inns.

This gave us the belief that there was a future for a pub in that area in the right hands and with the right business model.

We also outlined two concrete reasons why planning permission should not be granted…

1. Minimal marketing

Firstly, evidence available to us showed minimal effort was made to market the pub robustly for sale as a going concern by the then owners Enterprise Inns.

Enterprise claimed in YorkMix that “despite advertising to let the Jubilee as a business opportunity we have had no serious interest in taking the pub, and efforts to sell the freehold of the site with no restrictions have also been unsuccessful”.

They’ve produced no evidence to back up that claim and available evidence actually points to the contrary. The pub was on the market for a matter of days before a development company had a bid accepted to purchase it for residential conversion.

Potential buyers who wanted to purchase the pub to continue running it as a pub didn’t get a look in. Conspiracy theorists may smell a rat!

Inside the Jubilee, in a photograph from the Right Move website
Inside the Jubilee, in a photograph from the Right Move website

2. Lack of investment

Secondly, it’s blatantly obvious that Enterprise invested very little in the pub to make it an attractive proposition for customers and this was one of the key factors in its demise.

A pub has to be a hostelry that people want to drink in. It has to be welcoming and inviting. Décor and ambience plays a huge factor in the dynamic of what makes a good pub.

You only have to look at the pictures of the interior in the advert on Right Move to see how bleak the interior is in its present state.

Another shot of the interior from Right Move
Another shot of the interior from Right Move

Enterprise stated in their response to my last article on the pub that “every effort has been made to keep it trading with around £60,000 being spent on maintaining and upgrading facilities over the last few years”.

Anyone with any knowledge of what it takes to keep a pub (or any property for that matter) in good condition and renovated to ensure it doesn’t become run down will realise that £60,000 over “the last few years” is a laughably pitiful amount.

This could mean that Enterprise haven’t got a clue how much is needed to ensure a pub remains in good order – which I very much doubt, leading one to conclude that they are probably being disingenuous.

A real opportunity

So there’s a real opportunity for someone with vision and relevant previous experience to purchase The Jubilee and make it a success.

The right ingredients are there:

  • a reasonable asking price
  • a handsome building that lends itself to tasteful renovation
  • no beer tie so fair prices for beer from local breweries rather than beer marked up by as much as 100% by profiteering pub companies
  • an immediate local population of nearly 2,000 adults who would welcome a great newly refurbished pub on their doorstep
  • and the prospect of 1,500 new houses being built behind York Station as part of the York Central project providing additional future trade.

If you think you fit the bill or you know someone who may do – make them aware of this business opportunity.

Everybody wins if, in the right hands with the right business model, The Jubilee becomes the success many believe it is capable of.