The Cross Pipes, Otley: Fears 18th-century pub could be lost if owners sell to housing developer rather than new licensee

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Campaign group the Otley Pub Club has issued a warning to the owners of one of the town’s oldest pubs as it goes up for sale over fears the building may be converted for other uses.

Despite an offer being received from a prospective buyer of The Cross Pipes, which dates back to 1762, who wishes to run it as a pub with bed and breakfast accommodation, the Georgian building will be sold to the highest bidder on July 12.

Although the building has Asset of Community Value status, which normally conveys protection on pubs by ensuring they remain as licensed premises, the listing does not apply as it is currently in receivership and being marketed by Leonard Curtis Ltd.

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Otley Pub Club members now fear the administrators will instead accept an offer from a developer keen to turn the inn into housing, despite the existing bid, by an operator who wishes to refurbish the pub and add five guest bedrooms, meeting the £240,000 asking price.

The Cross Pipes, OtleyThe Cross Pipes, Otley
The Cross Pipes, Otley

The Cross Pipes fell into the receiver’s hands when the previous landlord was unable to pay a loan taken out to refit the pub due to the effects of Covid lockdowns, yet the prospective purchaser has committed to providing funds to complete the revamp.

Having been in the hands of John Smith’s brewery back in the 1980s, last summer licensee Ian Wellington bought the freehold of the site from Admiral Taverns.

The campaigners fear that the sale will favour the highest bidder regardless of their intentions for the 261-year-old hostelry, the last in Otley to brew its own beer.

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A statement from Otley Pub Club read: “The loss of the Cross Pipes would represent a wholly unnecessary loss of a historic, unique pub when there is a bid for it. There is also not enough overnight/bed and breakfast options for people visiting Otley so allowing the Cross Pipes to be lost forever would also stop it being used for this purpose going forward, as well as the loss of the pub.

"Otley Pub Club have also made clear to the owner and future owners that they would vigorously oppose any applications to change the use of the pub if the owners did do the wrong thing and seek to cash in the pub for development.

"There are cases where unscrupulous owners deliberately ignore bids (including at market value) for pubs, to deliberate profit by selling them for development or conversion, showing no regard for the feelings of the community, the impact on the local economy or the history and heritage of any area.

Chair Rob Skinner added: “We are delighted that there is a purchaser of the historic Cross Pipes as a pub, but we utterly dismayed to hear that the current owners might ignore it, despite it being at the asking price and that they may instead seek a higher offer from a developer. We call on Leonard Curtis to do the right thing and accept the bid for the Cross Pipes as a pub.

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“The Cross Pipes is one of Otley’s oldest pubs and it is really exciting that the prospective new owners intend to refurbish the pub and also look to operate bed and breakfast accommodation. It would be a disgrace for the Cross Pipes to be shut for good when there is a cash offer at the full asking price. The pub has Asset of Community Value status and although legally the current owners can ignore the process, morally they should accept the pub bid to ensure a positive outcome for all concerned”.

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