AN OTLEY hotel that is considered a vital part of the town’s tourism sector is to be sold.

Britain’s largest pub owner the Ei Group Plc - formerly Enterprise Inns - has announced that it is planning to sell The Black Horse.

Otley Pub Club has welcomed the news and hopes that a new owner will take over the inn, which has nine bedrooms and a function room, to secure its future.

The club listed the hotel, along with the town’s other pubs, as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) in 2015 to ensure it could not be converted for an alternative use without planning permission.

The ACV legislation won’t need to be used if a new owner who wishes to continue running the property as an inn comes forward within the next six weeks.

Otherwise, a six month moratorium will come into force - so long as a community group registers an interest - to give other groups the chance to take over the Black Horse as a pub.

Otley Pub Club Chair Matt Hardin said: “The Black Horse is an Otley landmark. Residents and visitors have enjoyed its hospitality for nearly 200 years and it is one of the few large venues left for events and live music in Otley.

“Its beautiful architecture and central location in town make it a great place to stay as well as a charming destination for a night out.

“Otley needs hotel accommodation and the Black Horse needs to stay as one of Otley’s best hotels.

“It is an important asset to the community and we would welcome new owners who are keen to run the inn.”

The club’s President Greg Mulholland, added: “I welcome the fact that the Ei Group have at last decided to sell the freehold of the Black Horse.

“This now gives it the opportunity for new ownership and a bright future, as opposed to being run as a tied, leased pub - a now discredited business model.

“The Black Horse is a fine Victorian coaching inn and in the right hands, run on the right business model, could succeed as many coaching inns do in other market towns.”

Based within Otley’s Conservation Area, the Black Horse has been an inn since 1821 with the current, Victorian building dating from 1901-2.