Planners set to call time on historic North Yorkshire Moors pub struggle

A decade-long saga which has seen a North York Moors community battle with an internet tycoon over the future of a historic pub should come to an end, planners have said.

By Stuart Minting, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Friday, 8th January 2021, 9:19 am
Updated Friday, 8th January 2021, 9:22 am

The recommendation to approve the conversion of the 239-year-old Plough Inn, at Fadmoor, into four holiday cottages and two local occupancy rental homes comes as the national park authority’s planning officers said it would be wrong to continue to block alternative uses of the building.

However, as its owner, Peter Wilkinson, who has built a reported £390m fortune after developing Freeserve, the UK’s first free consumer internet services provider, has already appealed to the Secretary of State, the park authority’s decision next week will only have an advisory effect.

In planning documents, agents for Mr Wilkinson said the former pub was “clearly not economically viable” and had become an eyesore to the village and local residence alike.

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The Plough Inn, Fadmoor

A spokesman said: “The proposals as detailed in this application for holiday lets will make a positive visual, sustainable and economic contribution to the local economy by providing direct and indirect employment and securing the future of the existing buildings.”

Nevertheless, many objectors continue to believe the pub, which has been listed as an Asset of Community Value, could be profitable.

A Yorkshire Campaign for Real Ale spokesman said there had been no compelling financial evidence supplied by the applicant that the pub was not viable when it was shut.

He said: “Any pub can be run badly and sadly many are and this can cause problems with viability, but there is a wealth of evidence pointing to successful rural pubs that are run well and profitably due to the business acumen of the operator.”

In a report to a meeting of the authority’s planning committee, officers said they continued to accept objectors’ claims that the closure of the pub since 2011 may have affected the way other businesses operate in the village, resulted in less passing tourist trade and inconvenienced residents wanting a pub within a short walk.

Officers said the proposal would help accommodate tourists who were likely to contribute to the local economy and bring the building back into use and a better state of repair, which would contribute to the character of the village.

The report states: “The Plough Inn as it used to be cannot be brought back by a planning decision but is reliant on the owner’s intent.

"It is clear in this case that there is no wish to do so.”

The report highlights that campaigners’ hopes that Ryedale District Council would use its powers to buy the property under a compulsory purchase order had not been fulfilled and concludes a refusal of the plan “would be difficult to justify”.

It states: “While officers fully understand the views of many residents at the passing of a well-loved and remembered local pub, the reality is that the village has not had the benefit of The Plough Inn for nearly a decade.

“There is an alternative facility within walking distance and in many villages where the nearest public house is a car journey away, community efforts have focused on providing a new pub facility in a building that is available for such a use.

"It is surprising that in view of the strength of feeling in this instance such a venture has not been pursued."

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