A historic pub described by campaigners as a hub of the community could be turned into two supported living apartments, if councillors agree.

Highstone Housing Association’s application to convert the Yew Tree Inn, Northowram Green, Northowram, Calderdale, into the homes would end an almost 240 year history as a public house and objections to the proposal include a 1,300 signature petition.

Calderdale Council’s Planning Committee will consider the application, which planning officers recommend should be permitted, when it holds its second meeting of the day from 6pm at Halifax Town Hall on Tuesday, January 15.

But the pub, a hub for charity events including Northowram Scarecrow Festival according to campaigners opposed to the plans, has also previously been listed by the council as an Asset of Community Value.

Ward Coun Peter Caffrey (Con, Northowram and Shelf) agrees with campaigners that the conversion should be opposed.

Campaigners claim the pub is a viable business and no attempt has been made to keep it running as one, a view rejected by the applicant.

Coun Caffrey said: “Objectors have adequately highlighted that closing a thriving and viable public house for conversion to flats should be vigorously opposed.

“The comments further accurately point out that the Yew Tree has been an integral part of village life and provided a social hub to a large and diverse cross section of local residents.”

He said the Yew Tree had been a pub since 1781, was important to Northowram and had been recognised by the council as an asset to the community.

Among the 20 letters of objection (one neutral letter was also received) which include the petition, campaigners claim no efforts have been made to keep the Yew Tree as a pub but it was a viable business before its closure and the building was not vacant when bought by the applicant.

The applicant has submitted a document from the previous pub company Enterprise Inns claiming a volatile trading history in recent years and concluding that having marketed the tenancy for many months without finding an applicant with suitable confidence in its future it was decided to put it up for sale.

Marketing company Fleurets, on behalf of the applicant, has said two parties were interested but felt it wasn’t viable on the returns it would be likely to generate: “Due to the high number of pubs in the area and shrinking customer base the area arguably has too many sites for the amount of trade to go round…

“Many would argue this is because of onerous rents but ultimately the pub companies are not charities and there has to be a viable income generated for both landlord and tenant,” it wrote to the council.

The council agreed to list the pub as an Asset of Community Value but planning officers advice to councillors is that a listing does not have to be taken into account as a material planning consideration by a local planning authority when determining an application, despite greater status given to ACVs in 2015.

Calderdale’s own adults and children’s services support the application arguing there is a high demand for this type of specialist accommodation.

Planners conclude the application is acceptable and there are no material considerations to outweigh presumption in favour of such a development. Councillors are being asked to decide.

Caption guiance – The Yew Tree, Northowram. Picture: Google Street View