A proposal to demolish the famous Wappy Spring pub in Huddersfield has sparked strong opinions on both sides of the debate.
A plan to flatten the iconic hostelry on Lindley Moor Road to make way for a new development was submitted in April by the Nano Park Company.
The firm specialises in creating business parks for smaller companies that need a fusion of both office and warehouse space.
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It has already set up a similar scheme in Bradford with others in the pipeline for Leeds, Skipton and Wakefield.
More than two months on from its application, Kirklees Council is yet to rule on the proposal.
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Rather than being decided by council officials, the plan now appears to be going to a planning committee in late July after Lindley councillors Cahal Burke and Anthony Smith formally opposed it.
A total of 36 comments are currently lodged on the council’s planning portal – but unusually a significant number are in support of the idea.
A letter from the current tenants of the pub, which is still open for business, reveals their efforts to revive it as a pub have all failed.
They say a number of big pub firms have passed on the chance to take it over, as has a successful restaurant business. Talks about building drive-thru restaurants have also taken place but they opted against it for fears of increasing traffic, litter and anti-social behaviour.
And they reveal they were approached by people wanting to launch an ‘Adult Themed Party Venue’ but they declined, commenting, that it was something they didn’t think “would go down too well with local residents!”
They comment: “We cannot afford to keep the business afloat with our own money any longer, we have both cashed in private pensions to invest in the business but Covid-19 has been the final straw.
“We genuinely feel that the proposed development would be good for the area overall, there will be far less extra traffic generated than by drive-throughs.
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“Whilst we will be extremely sad to see The Wappy go, unfortunately it will go, and the proposed scheme would be far preferable to seeing another boarded up, derelict building on such a prominent road opposite a prestige car dealership.”
However, a letter from the two councillors says they are opposed to allowing the greenbelt plot to be developed.
It says: “Other greenfield sites have been developed in Lindley and we believe that the destruction of further greenbelt land would be damaging.”
“We believe that there are brownfield sites across Lindley and Huddersfield which should be considered and prioritised first.”
The Nano Park Company said there was “massive demand” for the type of space it proposed and it believed it would meet the ‘very special circumstances’ test to allow development on the green belt.
It is thought the plot should have been removed from the green belt allocation when the M62 was built.
It said: “Located next to the M62 and close to other major commercial development, this largely brownfield site does not fulfil green belt purposes.”
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Edward Marshall, a director of the Nano Park Company commented: “This type of space is severely lacking in the area and will allow existing companies to grow, as well as attracting new businesses from around the region.
“Even at this early stage we have been incredibly encouraged with the level of interest from firms and would urge the council to back these plans for the many economic and business benefits that they will deliver.
“The success of our other sites shows that this new type of space is proving very popular and other councils have really embraced the concept.”
An earlier version of this article stated that the pub was closed. This was an error and we are happy to clarify that the pub is open for business.