Protests staged over proposed Wetherspoons

Sunday evening saw a lively protest staged by local residents and councilors following the news that pub chain JD Wehtherspoon have applied for a licence to turn an unused building on Headingley Lane into a pub.

As reported in The Gryphon last week, the successful company who currently run over 900 pubs in the UK, including seven in and around Leeds, purchased the Elinor Lupton Centre on Headingley Lane earlier this year with plans to make it the first Wetherspoons on the notorious Otley run pub craw.

The proposed site, which includes the grade II listed building, was previously a theatre and music centre, however, the building has been empty since 2010 after the old Leeds Girls’ High School closed.

Headingley councilor Neil Walshaw (Lab), said he was disappointed the building’s owners, The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL), had chosen to sell the site to the pub chain despite interest from two social enterprises.

He said: “Yet another pub in Headingley, in a location close to so many homes, is not what Headingley needs. It is very disappointing that the building has been sold to a pub chain when there were two community groups wanting to purchase the building to use it as an arts, music and theatre centre – something our community needs. Pubs on the other hand, we are not short of already.”

A spokesman for JD Wetherspoon has responded by confirming that the company has bought the site and said if approved, the redevelopment of the site would be in excess of £1.5m and would create over 50 local jobs. He said: “We have a number of Wetherspoon pubs in Leeds itself and in the Yorkshire region that are all successful. We are always looking for good sites in the region.”

It is still unclear when a decision regarding licencing will be made.

Greg Whitaker

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