Reindeer Inn, Overton: Heritage groups object to demolition of 18th century village pub to build houses

Heritage groups have objected to plans to demolish a Yorkshire pub which dates back to the 1700s.

A proposal to bulldoze the Reindeer Inn, at Overton, in order to build houses was submitted to Wakefield Council in January. The pub owners have said the business is no longer a viable after a 60 per cent drop in income since the pandemic.

The Georgian Group and Historic Buildings & Places, both national authorities on historic building planning applications, have lodged objections. The Georgian Group has warned the council that it could set a “legal precedent” for similar historic buildings in the district to be lost if the scheme is approved.

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The pub is thought to have been a coaching inn on the first turnpike between Huddersfield and Wakefield. It was also used by miners at the former Caphouse Colliery opposite. The site is now part of the National Coal Mining Museum. The detached stone building dates back to 1704 but does not have listed status.

Reindeer Inn, Overton, WakefieldReindeer Inn, Overton, Wakefield
Reindeer Inn, Overton, Wakefield

The Georgian Group argues that the property should now be considered a “non-designated heritage asset” due to its “considerable historic value”.

It’s report says: “The proposed scheme of works would cause significant and irreversible harm. We recommend that the applicant withdraws this application and revises it to model and explore the viability of retaining the existing building in situ to be adapted for reuse. If the applicant is unwilling to do so, outline permission should be refused.”

Historic Buildings & Places said the Reindeer Inn is clearly marked on early Ordnance Survey maps of the area. The group said National Coal Mining Museum documents also note the relationship between the between inn and the Caphouse miners.

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The objection says: “The loss of public houses is a national concern, with CAMRA reporting 1,293 pubs permanently closed in 2023 and 194 were demolished. The building is likely to retain much of its 18th century form and materials, despite modernisation and alterations.”

A statement submitted on behalf of the applicant says: “The existing owners have been in situ for over 17 years, but since the pandemic have seen their income drop some 60 per cent.”

The document says a weekly average of 120 Sunday lunches were sold at the pub before the pandemic but the number had dropped to an average of 27.

It adds: “Staff levels have dropped from 11 down to four. Meanwhile, energy prices are now costing £1,200 for January’s electricity and £350 for gas for the same period, with the possibility that they may rise even further in future. This has caused (the owners) to explore other avenues for them, which has led to this proposal.”

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The report says the area is well served by other pubs, including the Black Swan, at Overton, and the Albion House Club, at Middlestown. The scheme includes building on land leading down to New Road, part of which is a disused playground. Outbuildings near to the pub would also be demolished if the scheme was approved.

The proposal includes building three detached and two semi-detached houses, all with private drives and garages. Access to the site would be from Old Road. The council has received 19 objections from residents, with five in support.

A resident opposed to the plan said: “Heritage is extremely important to the sense of community. Problems arise from the removal of historical sites. Would you demolish Bath or York and replace with high rise flats? We need our history for coherent communities.”

A supporting comment says: “The pub is always empty when I pass. It’s not used by the community as there is a pub further on Old Road.”

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