The fire-damaged shell of a famous Leeds pub is set to be demolished in spring.
The remains of the historic Middleton Arms pub, in Middleton Park Road, Middleton, have been targeted for demolition after plans to turn it into an Aldi store were finally approved last year.
But after a suspected arson attack in December, the 97-year-old building was left gutted, with shattered windows and a gaping whole in its roof.
Dot Mounteney, chair of Middleton Community Group, said she saw children playing inside the remains of the pub the week after the blaze, which tore through the building’s first floor and roof void.
She said: “The sooner it’s knocked down the better because there’s broken windows on the roof and because of the wind it’s surprising that glass has not blown off on to the road.
“People have been saying on Facebook ‘RIP Middleton Arms’.”
Leeds City Council’s plans panel east finally agreed that the pub should be knocked down following a site visit and minor amendments to plans, such as moving the store further from housing, last year.
Planning officers initially recommended Aldi’s plans for refusal after they split the local community.
Some residents objected to the loss of the landmark building, while others argued it was becoming an eyesore and that the supermarket would bring more shopping choice.
Coun Judith Blake (Lab, Middleton Park) said: “I think it’s in everyone’s interests that it gets done. It has been a very key building in the past and it is tragic to see it in this state.”
She said the pub had been secured since the fire so that people could no longer get inside the building.
The new Aldi store is expected to create up to 30 jobs in what is an area of high unemployment.
Revised plans for the store stated that some of the pub’s decorative brickwork would be reclaimed and used as part of the new building – the masonry was unaffected by the blaze.
An Aldi spokeswoman said: “Demolition of the Middleton Arms pub is due to commence in Spring 2012, with construction of the new Aldi store due to begin later in the year.
“We are looking forward to being part of the Middleton community and will continue to offer Aldi shoppers great quality products, at exceptionally low prices.”