THE Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has launched a furious attack after plans were approved to turn one of Bradford’s most historically significant pubs into supported accommodation – describing the decision as “reprehensible”.

CAMRA has warned Bradford Council that it could mount a legal challenge regarding the New Beehive Inn and, if this happens, it will ensure it receives “media publicity, both locally and nationally, as we consider this to be an important case in terms of pub protection generally”.

The plan for the Grade II-listed Beehive, on Westgate, was approved last month, flying in the face of a representation from the council’s own conservation officer.

What did Bradford Council's conservation officer say? 

Jon Ackroyd criticised the lack of information on how the changes would impact the pub’s “heritage significance” and said the submitted information was “substantially inadequate”.

There had been numerous objections to the plans, with one saying the pub “represents the last standing Edwardian public house of its type in the city”.

Objections were said to be 'largely subjective' 

Planners acknowledged the proposed change of use would result in the “loss of cultural value” but said it would provide a “sustainable use in the form of the supported accommodation for the designated heritage asset instead of risking it falling into a state of disrepair due to lengthy vacancy.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Plans have been approved for the buildingPlans have been approved for the building

Objections were said to be “largely subjective”.

'Bradford's only pub of its kind'

Paul Ainsworth, CAMRA’s national planning policy adviser, has now written a letter to David Shepherd, Bradford Council’s strategic director – place. Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe was copied in, as were the three City Ward councillors, Bradford West MP Naz Shah, Historic England and media organisations.

He added: “Over many years, CAMRA has developed a National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors, identifying those that are of significant historical value. The highest category (three star) on that list covers the 300 interiors evaluated as being of exceptional national importance and the New Beehive is one of these.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The interior of the pubThe interior of the pub (Image: Newsquest)

“It is now Bradford’s only entry at this level, following the loss a decade or so ago of the Cock & Bottle, again as a result of the Council’s bad decision-making.

“We were shocked, therefore, by your decision to allow changes that will undoubtedly cause serious damage to this precious survivor, as was highlighted by your own conservation officer. With Bradford on the verge of becoming City of Culture, this disregard for a key aspect of its heritage is reprehensible.”

He said the application should have been referred to the planning panel for consideration and the fact it wasn't made it invalid.

'We feel an injustice has happened here' 

Mr Ainsworth said the representations made clear “the opposition to the loss of the pub as a community facility and there is much other evidence of its use by, and value to, the community”.

“The report contains no proper consideration of the fact that the change of use would result in the loss of a community facility, despite the concerns raised by objectors,” he added.

“There is an acknowledgement that the evidence on non-viability is weak, but this is dismissed because of the pub’s location.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: When it was known as The Bradfordian in 1986When it was known as The Bradfordian in 1986

“Other pubs in the city thrive in not dissimilar locations, so the cursory attention paid to this important issue is unacceptable.”

Mr Ainsworth said the council failed to comply with the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

He said this “contains wide-ranging policies supporting the retention of community facilities such as public houses” and added: “In particular, it requires local planning authorities to ‘guard against the unnecessary loss of valued facilities and services, particularly where this would reduce the community’s ability to meet its day-to-day needs’.”

“As the decision was not properly made, it should be revoked,” Mr Ainsworth said in his letter.

“I need to be clear that CAMRA feels very strongly that an injustice has happened here and we will therefore take this matter, if necessary, to Judicial Review,” he added.

Statement from Bradford Council

A Bradford Council spokesperson said: “The council granted planning permission and listed building consent for the change of use from the former public house and upper floor hotel to supported accommodation on 15 March 2024.

"The council has also received a copy of the letter from CAMRA and will be giving this full consideration.

"As the letter refers to legal and process matters it would not be appropriate for the council to comment any further at this stage.”