Georgian pub in York set to be turned into student flats after it struggled to compete with rival

A York pub dating back to the 1830s is set to be turned into “bland” student flats.

The closure of the Castle Howard Ox would leave The Groves area of the city with just one pub after losing three others in recent years.

The name of the Townend Road pub is said to have come from an ox called White Willy, which was owned by a syndicate who lived near Castle Howard and which was exhibited in York in 1833.

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The Castle Howard Ox

The pub, which hasn’t been open since 2017, will be turned into 16 student flats and a communal room.

Star Pubs and Bars bought the pub in August 2017 but put it back on the market just over a year later, citing a high turnover of tenants and a struggle to compete with the neighbouring Punch Bowl pub.

The freehold was advertised for £250,000 and more than 80 enquiries were received, though none of the final 12 bids were to run it as a pub or restaurant.

A conservation area advisory panel said the appearance of the proposed building looked “bland” but did not formally object, praising the size of the rooms.

Planning documents state: “The site is considered to be within a sustainable location close to York St John University and close to public transport for other educational establishments.”

Council officers said they “do not consider that the loss of the pub would result in undue harm to the local community”.

The pub appears on the first Ordnance Survey map of York published in 1852, but is believed to be older.

According to a heritage statement: “At that time it was considerably smaller than the present day building, consisting of just the southwestern of the present building.

“There was a range of two buildings behind the public house that are no longer present, which the 1891 map shows were a smithy and possibly a stable.”