Campaigners are celebrating after a judge upheld the decision to refuse J D Wetherspoon an alcohol licence for the grade-two listed Elinor Lupton Centre in Headingley.
The pub chain’s long-running bid to turn the building into a 500-capacity venue has taken another twist after a district judge at Leeds Magistrates’ Court sided with Leeds City Council and campaigners in refusing to issue the all-important booze licence.
Wetherspoon’s were appealing the council’s licensing panel decision of December 2016 and a company spokesman told the YEP they are “disappointed” are now considering their next steps.
It is the latest development in the saga which dates back to when Wetherspoon’s first expressed an interest in the former concert hall in 2007.
Their planning application to transform it into a pub was rejected by Leeds City Council in 2015 but in September last year, Wetherspoon won an appeal.
Campaigners living nearby the centre - which has been derelict since 2010 - have long fought against the plans, claiming a new “super pub” would be a nuisance and potential security threat.
It lies within an area made subject to a cumulative impact policy in 2005, aiming to stop the spread of licensed premises in the area.
Regarding the alcohol licence, district judge Mallon said in her written judgement that there was a “fundamental contradiction” at the heart of the Wetherspoon’s case.
She wrote: “It does not want to be a student pub and wants to appeal to local residents, yet two thirds of these are students; it wants to bring in customers from elsewhere but has a car part for 17 spaces; it wants to encourage a food-led approach while offering shots at three for £5. The court does not doubt the honesty of the Appellant’s case but it is contradicted by the evidence.”
Richard Tyler, one resident who lives nearby the centre and was at the court hearing, said: “Local residents are absolutely delighted. It is the wrong application in the wrong place.”
He said the community would be watching with interest as many hope it will brought back into use for local community groups.
Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “ We are disappointed with the decision. There has been a lot of support for the pub from people in the area. We are considering the judgment carefully before deciding on our next steps.”
A spokeswoman for Leeds City Council said: “We are pleased that, in dismissing the company’s appeal, the magistrates’ court accepted that our Licensing Sub-Committee had considered the original licence application on its merits and had applied the relevant policies in a proportionate manner.”