Planning application to convert The Hermit Inn at Burley Woodhead is withdrawn as supporters launch campaign to save the pub

A country pub near Ilkley could have a second chance to prove its viability after an application to convert it into housing was withdrawn.

The Hermit Inn at Burley Woodhead

The Hermitt Inn at Burley Woodhead's landlady Gillian Kelly closed her business last year, claiming she was unable to turn a profit due to Covid-19 restrictions.

She then submitted a proposal to Bradford Council to convert the 400-year-old inn - a one-time haunt of Countdown presenter Richard Whiteley - for residential development, but her application has now been withdrawn before a decision could be given.

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Although Mrs Kelly's revised plans are not known, the proposal spurred Burley Woodhead resident Nick Hooper to form a campaign group called Save the Hermit Association. Members intend to lobby Bradford Council to list the pub as an Asset of Community Value.

If successful, Mrs Kelly would be required to offer the community group the right to buy the pub if she put it up for sale on the open market and they would have six months to gather the capital to purchase it. ACV rules also restrict a building's future use, meaning The Hermit would remain as pub regardless of its eventual ownership. The listing also gives the council power to enact a compulsory purchase order on a pub if they feel its structural condition is deteriorating in the absence of a buyer.

The campaign has attracted the support of several past and present MPs, including Shipley's Phillip Davies, as well as the author Colin Speakman, who lives locally and has pledged his backing because of The Hermit's popularity among the rambling fraternity.

Campaigners have pointed out that when it was last listed for sale in 2017, The Hermit had a weekly turnover of £8,000 and still has strong potential to be profitable.

Mr Hooper was inspired to set up Save the Hermit Association after meeting people on his daily walks around Woodhead who expressed sadness at the plans. He described the pub as 'a centre of local social life'.

Mr Speakman, who is known for his Yorkshire walking guides, lives in Burley-in-Wharfedale and claimed The Hermit was an integral part of ramblers' heritage.