Old legal agreement threatens Barnsley businessman’s village bistro plans

Businessman John Thornton has called a public meeting to discuss his plans for a new bistro-cum-bar in the village of Pilley, Barnsley.
Businessman John Thornton has called a public meeting to discuss his plans for a new bistro-cum-bar in the village of Pilley, Barnsley.
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An old legal agreement could scupper plans to re-introduce public facilities to a South Yorkshire village that has been shorn of its pub and working men’s club.

Businessman John Thornton wants to create a multi-purpose bistro-cum-bar in Pilley, Barnsley, with space to hold social gatherings following the closure of other facilities in the village in recent years.

New housing developments are expanding the village’s population, increasing the need for community meeting places, but Mr Thornton’s plans are in doubt.

The site he believes is most suitable is the old village bowling green. Currently in the stewardship of Barnsley Council, the plot was originally gifted to the community in the 1930s by the Wharncliffe Silkstone Miners Welfare Scheme, but it is now in a state of disrepair.

Mr Thornton said he had approached the council about securing a long-term lease for the site, with a plan that the business would also provide facilities such as toilets for people who use Pilley Pocket Park children’s play area, alongside it.

But the site’s original legal agreement states that it must be used for public benefit, a criteria which Mr Thornton has been told is not met by his proposals.

Mr Thornton, who has lived in the village for three decades, disputes that and has called a public meeting to gauge public support for his plans. The meeting will be held at Tankersley Welfare Hall on Monday, January 28 at 7pm.

He hopes that a swell of public support would persuade Barnsley Council to look again at how flexible it can be over the interpretation of the land’s use.