Plans to salvage historic brickwork from a demolished pub so that it could be reused in a new store facade have been scrapped.
The new single-storey Aldi store, being built on land in Middleton Park Road, Middleton, was supposed to incorporate the masonry used on the much-loved Middleton Arms pub, which was knocked down in 2012.
The supermarket chain had agreed to commemorate the landmark with its new structure, carefully removing the ornate bricks from the old building, following discussions with Leeds City Council.
But the local authority has explained that the masonry was deemed “not structurally sound” enough to be used in the building’s new facade by an inspector, despite rumours locally suggesting that the bricks had been damaged after their removal.
Roy Mawson, chair of Middleton Community Group, has written a letter to Aldi’s building site manager requesting answers.
He told the YEP: “It seems a bit disgusting that when they had meetings they more or less guaranteed that they would use these bricks somewhere on site.”
Ian Kirkland, who is a committee member at Middleton Community Group, added: “It’s a shame, as a lot of effort was put into taking it down properly, brick by brick.”
The near-completed Aldi store, which will create up to 30 new jobs, is expected to open next month.
Alan Shaw, of the Friends of Middleton Park, said: “We always felt that when the original brickwork was safely moved it would be useful to use it in the new store to commemorate that the Middleton Arms was there and was a strong community building. We are hoping to come up with a different solution.”
Aldi is thought to be working with local primary schools and community groups to help pay tribute to the old pub in the new store in some way and could reuse the masonry in another way.
Coun Kim Groves (Lab, Middleton Park) explained that she sympathised with residents, adding that planners saw the brickwork as “second to none” in terms of design.
She said: “Aldi are making every effort to work with the whole community including Middleton Community Group and the Friends of Middleton Park on how we can take this forward.”
A council spokeswoman said a planning inspector viewed samples of the brickwork and found that they were not structurally sound for use in the facade but that they may be used elsewhere.
Aldi were unavailable for comment when approached by the YEP yesterday.
THE PUB BEHIND MIDDLETON
Opened as a hotel in 1925, the Middleton Arms pub grew to be a much-loved hub for the community.
The building had its own private double tennis courts, a sunken garden and a ballroom, which was used as a makeshift church for Catholic Mass from 1930 to 1934.
But the decline of the pub trade saw it suffer and, having lain empty for an extended period, the building was gutted in a suspected arson attack in 2011.
Around 2,000 former visitors still exchange memories on a Middleton Arms Facebook page, visit www.facebook.com/middleton.arms.