A “dilapidated” former pub will make a shocking advert for Otley if it is not tidied up before the Tour de France.
That is the claim being made by Otley Pub Club and local politicians who are calling for urgent action to improve the appearance of the boarded-up Summercross Inn, on Pool Road.
The property has been standing empty since 2009 when planning permission was granted – despite a community campaign – for it to be converted into a care home by Westward Care.
The Tour de France will pass the Summercross when it enters Otley on Saturday, July 5 – and Councillor Ryk Downes (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) fears it could leave a damaging impression of the town.
He said: “I have written to the current owners asking them to tidy up as the Tour de France will be coming past and it looks like an eyesore – not a good advert for Otley.
“The Summercross has been left derelict for a long time now. This is a huge flaw in the planning system.
“Once permission has been granted then, as long as work has been started within a certain time, the permission carries on.
“There should be a completion date set at some point. Here, the owners simply demolished the toilets – in 2012 – and that counted as the start of the development process.
“Yet nothing more has happened and we are left with a historic building looking very dilapidated. Developers should not be allowed to treat our communities like this – either develop or sell, don’t leave us having to constantly look at a building site.”
Those views are backed by MP Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West), the honorary president of Otley Pub Club.
He said: “Westward Care continue to treat the Summercross building and local people with utter contempt.
“They are cynically land-banking this pub and allowing it to fall into disrepair, presumably so they can then seek to demolish it – despite it being in a conservation area and them being forced to retain it by the council.
“It is time Leeds City Council, who let down Otley over the Summercross, step in and stop these developers riding roughshod over the community.
“It is also time for Westward to admit they have failed to stick to their agreement with the planning authority and sell the pub on, hopefully to a company who will invest and reopen it as a pub.”
Westward Care’s managing director Peter Hodkinson, however, insisted the company was still committed to the plot.
He said: “I do understand the concerns about the site and what the neighbours are saying. We are conscious of those concerns and we will endeavour to tidy up the site – which we do periodically inspect anyway – and make it look presentable imminently, before the Tour de France. In terms of the redevelopment we’re still probably 18 months away but we are going to develop here and are working on plans for it right now.”
A spokesman for Leeds City Council added: “Although we cannot dictate when developers begin on site, we have maintained a dialogue with them to ensure development can commence as quickly as possible. We will also examine any revised planning proposals in detail. The Summercross is also being considered as part of our derelict and nuisance properties programme, which allows us to work with developers to improve buildings that have fallen into disrepair.”