Pub bosses have submitted plans for a controversial project to transform the grade II-listed Elinor Lupton Centre in Headingley into a Wetherspoon’s pub.
JD Wetherspoon PLC’s application comes after campaigners in the suburb united against the proposal at the end of last year when it emerged the pub chain had bought the historic building on Headingley Lane.
Once a theatre and music centre, it has remained empty since 2010 after the old Leeds Girls’ High School closed but some residents had hoped the building would be brought back into use for local community groups rather than another pub.
Wetherspoon’s application said they were “attracted to this building due to its architectural interest as this fits in with [our] standard ‘model’ of bringing historic buildings back into use”.
The plans propose limiting external changes to the rear of the building, where a new balcony will be built, and preserving the internal “heart of the building”, with only “minimal alterations” to the ground floor layout.
It states the large pyramid roof light above the auditorium will be restored and first floor classrooms used as extra space and toilets.
It concludes: “The building has been left without maintenance for five years and requires intervention. Without such works, the building and surrounding site will stand unused and be subject to more vandalism and continue to be an eyesore to passers-by.
“The scheme we have put forward seeks to renovate the building so it can be inhabited and enjoyed by the general public. While keeping its distinct character and respect for its history to ensure that it is not lost. We believe that the interventions we make are offset by the wider benefit of repair and preservation to the building that it so desperately requires.”
JD Wetherspoon’s interest in the Elinor Lupton building dates back to 2007, when the YEP reported fears by police and the community over the pub chain’s desire to buy the site.
The site lies within an area which the council made subject to a cumulative impact policy in 2005, aiming to stop the spread of licensed premises in the area.