Owner of Georgian pub where Luddites once met may appeal refusal to demolish it for houses

The owner of a 250-year-old pub linked to the Luddite rebellion may appeal a decision preventing him from knocking it down for housing.

The 18th century Shears Inn at Liversedge, which may yet become a pub once again. (Pic: Andy Catchpool)

Andrew Mitchell says the Shears Inn on the A649 Halifax Road at Liversedge is not viable as a pub. He wants to pull it down to make space for four houses.

Earlier this week, Kirklees Council ruled against the idea.

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That pleased campaigners including Spen Valley Civic Society, which said the council had recognised the pub’s connection to historical events and their local and national significance.

The Shears Inn in Liversidge has a long history

A spokeswoman said: “Kirklees Council has clearly listened to residents, who submitted hundreds of comments objecting to the proposed demolition of the Shears Inn.”

But there is new interest in the building which, in 1812, was the site of a meeting of Luddite rebels.

Entrepreneur Mike Smith, famous in Yorkshire as the man behind Mike’s Carpets, says he is willing to take on the pub – at the right price.

Speaking after Wednesday’s ruling at the council’s heavy woollen planning sub-committee Mr Mitchell, who bought the Shears as a derelict shell in 2009, said: “I fully expected the decision to be made as it was. I’ve been advised to appeal that decision. If it’s unlikely to be overturned then I’ll have to look at options.

“They include offering the building to the Muslim community as a prayer facility. Also the Co-op have always been interested in the site, as has Spar.”

Mr Mitchell, who runs pubs and clubs across the North West and Yorkshire, says he has invested hundreds of thousands of pounds in the Shears Inn since he bought it.

“It was in dire straits when I bought it 12 years ago. Every window was smashed and the roof was missing. I spent £100,000 to bring it back to the basic shell.”

He now says it’s time to look at a different approach for the building, which dates from 1773.

Meanwhile Mr Smith, who runs 38 pubs in the Yorkshire area including the nearby New Pack Horse and The Lonsdale, is willing to step in.

He said: “I would buy it immediately, without a shadow of a doubt, but the price would have to be right. The Shears has to be a local pub. It’s not going to get planning permission for houses because of the local feeling for it.

“The owner has to look at it and think about what he’s got. It’s a pub that he can’t make pay. He either makes it pay or sells it on.”

Mr Mitchell has previously castigated locals for supporting the retention of the Shears but failing to patronise the premises.

He said: “If we asked all the people complaining about it how much they have spent in the pub over the last five years we would get a clean sheet. If it’s not profitable, what are we supposed to do?”

Mr Smith said: “If he has exhausted all the other avenues in terms of planning he has two options: make it pay or sell it on at a realistic price. There is a lot of good feeling for the pub but some things work for some people and not for others.

“And if people want it to continue as a pub they have to support it. That means atmosphere and something to entice them in. It’s a very nice pub.”

The Luddites were pre-industrial textile workers who felt their livelihoods were threatened by increasing mechanisation.

A group gathered in the pub in April 1812 before ambushing wagons carrying new machinery.

The ringleaders were later hanged.