Campaigners fighting to save the Merry Monk pub have been dealt a blow after Leeds City Council said it was willing sell the site for housing.
The council owns the land housing the Merry Monk Pub on Kirkstall Hill and has agreed to start negotiations with existing leaseholder Blue Pig Holdings Ltd to sell its freehold interest.
It’s understood the land would be sold by the council for a residential development to be built on the site.
The decision comes despite a group of Kirkstall residents winning the right to get the pub listed as an asset of community value in September.
The Save the Merry Monk Group say said the community had lost many local resources over the past decade, including a community centre on land behind the pub.
The long-term lease of the site was taken over by Blue Pig Holdings Ltd in the summer. The company closed the Merry Monk on August 13.
Campaigner Stuart Long said:
“This is clearly a massive disappointment to a community that has used the building for many a decade.
“Looking locally at traffic, Burley Road – outside the Merry Monk – comes to a grinding traffic jam and is congested every night on Kirkstall Hill for many an hour. [Housing] will add even more traffic to it.
“It is also very disappointing to see Leeds City Council making this land for sale as locally the land at the back of the Merry Monk public house has been empty and available for sale since the mid-1990s.
“We do not see The Merry Monk actively advertised for let, but what appears locally to be a holding pattern for a building development.”
Save the Merry Monk group cannot buy the property under the asset of community value agreement as it is currently an unincorporated group.
But the group have previously said that if the owner wanted to sell the site, they would consider their options with the community and other organisations which help people set up community co-operatives.
The decision to sell the site was taken by council officers last week. A council report said:
“The council’s housing growth team has identified this site for the potential provision of additional housing in response to the deemed shortage in this locality.”
The report added that the listing of the building as an asset of community value would have to be taken into account when considering future planning applications.
Local councillors were consulted on the proposed sale and no objections were received.
The council report can be read in full here.