Judge Refuses Wetherspoon’s Appeal

A judge has upheld the decision to refuse J D Wetherspoon an alcohol license for the grade-two listed Elinor Lupton Centre on Otley Road, Headingley. The long-running bid to turn the iconic building into a 500-capacity eatery took a further step backward after a Leeds Magistrates’ Court district judge sided with local campaigners and Leeds City Council. The plan to turn the building, which has been derelict since 2010, into a Wetherspoon’s began in 2007, when the pub chain first expressed a desire to convert the former concert hall. Their planning application was rejected by Leeds City Council in 2015, but in September last year, Wetherspoon won an appeal. The vital alcohol license was refused, however, by a council licensing panel in December 2016. Local campaigners have long fought against the plans, claiming that the introduction of a “super pub” would create potential security threats and would generally be a nuisance to the community, particularly as it lies on the route of the infamous Otley Run.

The area is subject to a cumulative impact policy introduced in 2005, which aimed to stop the spread of licensed premises. District Judge Mallon highlighted in her judgement that there were “fundamental” contradictions in the case, which led her to her decision. “It does not want to be a student pub and wants to appeal to local residents, yet two thirds of these residents are students,” she wrote. “It wants to bring in customers from elsewhere but has car parking for 17 spaces; it wants to encourage a food-led approach while offering shots for £5. “The court does not doubt the honesty of the Appellant’s case but it is contradicted by the evidence,” she concluded. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon, stated that the company was disappointed by the ruling and emphasised that there had been a lot of support for the pub from people in the area. “We are considering the judgement carefully before deciding our next steps,” he added. A spokeswoman for Leeds City Council said that the are pleased that the original decision had been upheld. “The Magistrates’ Court accepted that our Licensing Sub-Committee had considered the original license application on its merits and had applies the relevant policies in proportionate manner.” Jonny Chard