A group of Kirkstall residents has won the right to get their local pub listed as an asset of community value.
The ‘Save the Merry Monk’ group wants to preserve the Merry Monk pub, which closed last month, claiming it is a vital resource for the community.
They say the Kirkstall Hill pub site, which is owned by the council and leased to a private company, needed to be safeguarded against potential future redevelopment into flats or houses.
Listing the pub as an asset of community value gives communities a right to identify a property or land that is believed to further their social interests or social wellbeing.
It also gives them a chance to make a bid to buy the property on the open market should the owner decide to sell.
One of the campaigners, local resident Stuart Long, welcomed the council’s decision. He said the community had lost many local resources over the past decade, including a community centre that sat on land behind the pub. Mr Long added:
“If they don’t reopen it as a pub we’d love to buy it and take it as an asset for the area rather than just let it die. But we hope the future will see the pub reopen, previous landlords have shown it can be viable and successful.
“We’d look to raise the money to turn it into a dual site, perhaps with a pub and something like a post office or corner shop attached to it. It should be a hub for the community.”
Mr Long said the campaign was backed by more than 150 local residents.
The long-term lease of the site was taken over by Blue Pig Holdings Ltd in August.
They declined to comment to the council on Save the Merry Monk’s application, saying they were satisfied with objections put forward by previous leaseholder Unique Pub Properties Ltd. Unique argued the land wasn’t of community value, and claimed that the nomination was made by an individual who ‘petitioned’ to get the minimum 21 signatures needed to support the nomination.
A report on the Merry Monk site by council officers said:
“Officers conclude that the property has had a use in the ‘recent past’ which furthered the social interests or social wellbeing of the local community and it is realistic to think that it can be brought back into use which furthers the social interests or social wellbeing of the community within five years.”
Council officers added that Save the Merry Monk group, in its current guise, could not purchase the property as it was an unincorporated group.
But Save the Merry Monk have stated that if the owner wanted to sell the site, they would “consider their options with the community and other organisations such
as the Plunkett Foundation, who help people set up and run community co-operatives”.
The pub is listed on commercial property website Movehut as being currently available to rent.