A divisive plan to create a pub at a former doctor’s surgery in Leeds has been approved after a drawn-out process which one councillor has dubbed an “unseemly pantomime”.
The Planning Inspectorate has approved proposals by JD Wetherspoons to build a bar at 39 Austhorpe Road in Cross Gates – an application that was considered by Leeds City Council planning committee members at two separate meetings without a decision being made. The Government-appointed inspector has also ordered the council to pay the pub company’s costs for the appeals process after finding the authority acted “unreasonably”.
The company appealed to the Government last year before the plan – first submitted in summer 2016 – was due to be discussed at committee for a third time.
Inspector D Guiver said: “I consider the Council’s inconsistency in changing positions on matters where there was no material change of circumstances demonstrates a want of substantive reasons to justify the delay and has caused the applicant to incur the unnecessary costs of lodging and pursuing an appeal. I therefore find that unreasonable behaviour resulting in unnecessary or wasted expense...has been demonstrated and that a full award of costs is justified.”
A Leeds City Council spokeswoman said North and East Plans Panel members “had genuine concerns” about the potential impact of the pub “on the amenities of local residents, the proposed servicing arrangements for the pub and their effects on traffic and the safety of pedestrians.
The Panel simply wished for those matters to be explored further with the applicant before reaching its final decision on the application.”
Coun Janette Walker, an independent who was for the plan, called the process an “unseemly pantomime” and said the council considered “spurious, non-material matters”.She is trying to find out the full amount of the appeals costs.