Community helps secure future of historic Leeds pub

Success: The Chemic Tavern has seen increased footfall.
Success: The Chemic Tavern has seen increased footfall.
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Campaigners are celebrating after successfully applying for the last remaining pub in a Leeds suburb to become an ‘asset of community value’.

The Chemic Tavern, on Johnston Street, now has the coveted status thanks to Leeds City Council chiefs approving the application of the newly-formed Friends of Chemic Tavern.

It now means its brewery owners want to sell the pub over the next five years, they would have to go to the community group so they have first chance to bid.

Lynne Fordyce, secretary of the group, said: “The other local pubs in the area have been turned into flats. It’s the only pub in Woodhouse now, so we thought we’d try to make it an asset of community value to help at least protect it into the future. For us, it’s always been of community value. Lots of community groups use it now. It’s not a pub with big screens, it’s a real locals’ pub.”

It is the latest move by locals to secure its future, coming just months after a crowdfunding campaign raised £5k within a week to pay the struggling pub’s business rates. As reported by the YEP in April this year, the pub found itself at risk of closure when its rates bill increased by 31 per cent.

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Robert Wood, one of the pub’s landlords, said they have been “humbled” by the show of support from the community.

“When we hit the £5k target it was absolutely incredible. That was obviously a quick fix but the main thing has been the footfall dramatically increased. The diary started filling up and we became really busy, with events every week.

“It’s just considerably better. We’re now fairly comfortable. We’re still not making a huge profit but the panic’s over, the customers are happy, staff morale is up. It’s been an interesting year.

“It’s gone really well. It’s really humbling.”

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