Otley residents demand action over Tour de France “eyesore” after pub left derelict for five years

By Alex Rhodes

Otley Pub Club and residents living near a derelict pub on the Tour de France route are calling for action before it falls into ruin.

The Summercross Pub on East Busk Lane has been boarded up since 2009 when planning permission was given to Westward Care to build a care home. However approval came with the condition that the building and boundary wall would be preserved, as the pub lies in the Otley Conservation Area.

No construction has happened since then and the pub club, along with some residents, fear that this is a “cynical and deliberate tactic” to later apply for planning permission to completely demolish it.

The rear of the Summercross

The rear of the Summercross

Pub club member Cllr Ryk Downes, who represents Otley and Yeadon ward on Leeds City Council, said: “I have written to the current owners, asking them to tidy up the area as the Tour de France will be coming past and it looks an eyesore and is not a good advert for Otley. This is a huge flaw in the planning system.”

Greg Mulholland, Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West, is president of Otley Pub Club and wants the site to be reopened as a pub.

He said: “Westward Care continue to treat the Summercross building and local people with utter contempt.

“They are cynically land-banking this pub and allowing it to fall into disrepair, presumably so they can then seek to demolish it – despite it being in a conservation area and being forced to retain it by the council.

“It is time Leeds City Council, who let down Otley over the Summercross, step in and stop these developers riding roughshod over the community.”

Resident Trevor Good, 61, of East Busk Lane, agreed: “The cynic in me is saying they’re just waiting for it to fall down.”

Otley Pub Club has also blamed the council for giving permission to Westward Care in the first place. Sister company, Chartford Homes, had previously applied to demolish the pub in order to build new townhouses.

Another resident, who did not want to be named, said: “They wanted to put far too many houses on it, it seemed like a case of greedy builders.”

Bob Dootson, 57, of East Busk Lane said: “It looks a mess. I’ll just be happy to see something done with it.”

However, Henry Oddy, 39, of East Busk Lane said: “It’s a bit of an eyesore but it’s been like that for so long, it’s no longer an issue. Most of the people who come to see the Tour won’t be bothered about seeing the buildings.”

A Leeds City Council spokesman has said: “This is an important historic building  and when planning consent was given back in 2009 it ensured appropriate use of the existing structure that kept it intact for the Otley community. Although we cannot dictate when developers begin on site, we have maintained a dialogue with them to ensure that development can commence as quickly as possible. We will also examine any revised planning proposals in detail.

“The Summercross building is also being considered as part of our derelict and nuisance properties programme, which allows us to work with developers to improve buildings that have fallen into disrepair.”

The Tour route in front of the pub

The Tour route in front of the pub

The Tour de France cyclists will travel past the pub and through Otley on the first stage of the race on July 5.

Westward Care and Chartford Homes have been contacted by Yorkshire Voice and asked for their comments.

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