New Beehive Inn: Plans to turn one of Bradford’s most historically important pubs into supported accommodation approved

Plans to turn one of Bradford’s most historically important pubs into supported accommodation have been approved, with objections to the proposal for the listed building dismissed as “subjective”.

Planning officers at Bradford Council approved the change of use of the Grade-II listed New Beehive Inn on Westgate despite the authority’s own Conservation officer calling the proposals “substantially inadequate”.

And although officers admitted evidence that the building would not likely ever be a viable pub as weak, they highlighted the “notable change in demographics” in the city that meant a change of use should be allowed.

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The planning application to convert the building into supported accommodation was submitted last year by Sakhawat Hussain.

New Beehive 2New Beehive 2
New Beehive 2

Work to alter the pub, which dates back to 1901, had already begun when Historic England granted the building Grade II-listed status in 2022.

The pub had been shut for some time before the listing.

The listing described the pub as “a rare survival of a late Victorian internal plan of four rooms centred around a drinking lobby”.

It also highlighted many of the period features inside the building.

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Although there had been calls for the Beehive to reopen as a pub from groups including CAMRA, the application called for the building to become supported accommodation, with its grand ground floor divided into office space, communal areas and a dining room.

The plans assured the Council that all the listed features inside the pub would be retained.

But the Council’s Conservation Officer Jon Ackroyd criticised the lack of information on how the changes would impact the pub’s “heritage significance” and argued the applicant had not provided enough justification that “all reasonable attempts to retain the original use of this statutorily listed building had been explored before an alternative use was promoted”.

He added: “In both respects the submitted information is substantially inadequate.

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“The new use, which it appears has already commenced, does not provide significant public benefit and does not balance or offset the harm which can be concluded to impact upon the heritage asset.”

There had been numerous objections to the plans, with one saying it “represents the last standing Edwardian public house of its type in the city”.

The plans were approved on March 15, but the planning officer’s report detailing the reasons for approval was not uploaded until this week – after the Local Democracy Reporting Service requested to see it.

Approving the scheme, planning officers say in the report: “Officers are mindful that the evidence provided to make a case as to why the original public house use is no longer viable is somewhat weak.

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“However, weight is afforded to the notable change in demographics across the City of Bradford as a whole and the change in footfall to this part of the city due to its distance from the most active parts of the city centre, which make the public house use less viable.”

Planners added: “Whilst the proposed change of use will result in the loss of cultural value via the loss of a public house it provides environmental, economic and social value.

“It provides a sustainable use in the form of the supported accommodation for the designated heritage asset instead of risking it falling into a state of disrepair due to lengthy vacancy.”

Referring to the objections, officers said: “Officers are aware of the extensive representations received; however these are largely subjective.

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“The proposed development provides a viable alternative use in this Grade II- listed Building which will help to preserve features of special architectural and historical interest.

“Some internal features are compromised however any harm caused is less than substantial and is considered to be outweighed by the public benefits associated with the nature of the proposed use and the introduction of a new use which will prevent the building from decay and dereliction through long term vacancy.”

After hearing about the approval Richard Holden, a member of Bradford CAMRA, wrote to Michael Gove, Minister of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities expressing his anger at the decision.

His letter said: “If possible I would like you to launch whatever objections are possible to challenge this decision. It flies in the face of planning regulations and policies to preserve such historic jewels in our cultural crown.

“No doubt there will now be a national outcry and humiliation of our great city.”

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