New battle to save landmark York pub as flats plan goes to appeal
York residents trying to save and restore their local pub are facing another battle, as its owner tries again to turn part of it into flats.
The Jubilee in Balfour Street, off Leeman Road, has been closed since it was sold to Tri-Core Developments in 2016. Locals and campaigners have repeatedly rallied to prevent much of the pub being turned into housing.
Their campaign appeared to have succeeded after councillors rejected the flats plan in April.
A community group hopes to buy the pub and revive its fortunes – but Dominic Woodward of Tri-Core has now appealed against the April ruling, meaning a national inspector will decide the matter early next year.
The pub opened in 1897, and was named in honour of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. It traded as a pub for almost 120 years, but then underwent a series of management changes under Enterprise Inns, before being sold to Tri-Core.
Under Mr Woodward’s plans, the second floor and part of the first floor of The Jubilee would become three flats. A smaller pub would occupy the ground floor, and an altered function room would be retained on part of the first floor.
Campaigners earlier this year said such a “vastly diminished” pub was not a viable proposal, and said the creation of flats would inevitably lead to noise issues.
Tri-Core’s latest appeal document states: “It has been demonstrated the revised proposal would ensure the retention of The Jubilee public house including its function room and beer garden. The Jubilee public house could therefore continue to meet the day-to-day needs of the community.”
Tri-Core said leaving the building empty would lead to a risk of the building declining, and said Mr Woodward was willing to repair and fit out the shell of the pub part of the building.
Local councillor Kallum Taylor, who is working closely with the group, said raising the funds and dealing with all the issues involved was a big job for a group of volunteers but said they had made good progress in recent months and would apply to the Government’s Community Ownership Fund when it re-opens this month.
Cllr Taylor said: “I’ll be doing my bit as a councillor to fight the appeal.
“All the same arguments exist just as they did back in April… If the residents can pull this off it would lift the Leeman Road area considerably, and with York Central coming, the case for retaining this building for community use only gets stronger.”
Nick Love, pub protection officer at the York branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, said Camra had been fighting “unwanted development” at The Jubilee since 2015, and said Tri-Core hadn’t learnt the lessons from its previous unsuccessful attempts.
He said: “Nothing has changed since the last inspector rejected the appeal due to ‘the unacceptable loss of community facilities’, but the community has been doing a huge amount of work since and has indeed engage with Tri-Core.”
Both Enterprise and Tri-Core said they didn’t think the pub was viable, but locals and pub campaigners say it has not been given a chance in recent years.
There have been cases elsewhere in York of pubs being declared unviable by business owners, only to later thrive in independent hands – most notably The Volunteer Arms in Holgate and The Phoenix in the city centre.
The community plan for the Jubilee
The Friends Of The Jubilee group wants to buy the property, either freehold or leasehold, and run a pub and other local services from the building, run by and for the community.
On its website, the group says it would run a good pub but also additional services. They say: “Our community has lost many services and spaces and we want to bring the whole of this big, beautiful building to life, perhaps with a postal service, a home for the local food bank, rooms for co-working, start-ups, or artists to hire, a community ‘library of things’, a youth club, a bicycle repair shop, or even brewing our own beer on site.”
The group succeeded in getting the pub relisted as an Asset of Community Value in June, and is working on plans for a potential purchase.