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Otley's Dunnies cafe set to make way for care home
Otley’s “iconic” Dunnies cafe looks certain to be demolished after serving the town for nearly 90 years.
The fate of the business seems sealed following a successful appeal by the developer, who wants to knock it down and build a nearby home for the elderly.
A planning inspector’s decision in favour of Gladman Care Homes – dashing the hopes of campaigners fighting to keep the cafe – means its 48 flat scheme can now proceed.
Reaction in Otley has been mixed, with many bemoaning the prospect of losing what has been a popular riverside destination for cyclists, motorcyclists and walkers since 1925.
Relief has been expressed too, though, that an “eyesore” – the long derelict former All Saints Middle School site and its Bridge Street annexe – will finally be cleaned up.
Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) said: “I am disappointed the inspector has agreed to the building of a large, unsuitable building in this important riverside location.
“It will mean the loss of Dunnies, an iconic Otley landmark, but on the positive side it means the old derelict school building will finally be demolished.”
Otley Town Councillor Carl Morris (Lab, Manor) said: “I’m glad the care home is going ahead, as the old school site is an eyesore and desperately needs developing, but it’s a great shame Otley will lose Dunnies.
“To be honest, though, I’ve never been convinced with the idea of rebuilding Dunnies as a new stone cafe. Rebuilding it wouldn’t have saved Dunnies, it would just have created a completely different cafe without the same sentimental attachment.
“So while it’s sad the owners want to sell up and retire, I would say ‘thanks for all the butties and good luck’.”
Otley’s MP Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West), however, who backed a bid by resident Richard Davies to have the cafe listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV), is vowing to fight on.
He said: “It is wrong that a planning inspector has made a decision when there is an asset of community value application pending.
“That is simply not acceptable and undermines the whole initiative and the community right to bid, laid down in the Localism Act. Even at this late stage, I urge Gladman to sit down and discuss the possibility of incorporating a new stone built cafe into their plans to ensure this facility is preserved with the benefits it provides to local tourism and to the community.”
While accepting that the new development would “introduce a substantial building”, the inspector concluded that the care home – which will have two, three and four-storey elements – would not be out of keeping.
He also decided that it would not cause “any significant harm”, in terms of its scale or overlooking issues, for nearby properties.
Referring to the calls to save Dunnies, he added: “It is evident the café is highly regarded as something of a local institution by walkers, bikers and cyclists.”
He added: “The loss of the café/newsagent premises would not be sufficient justification for the scheme to be refused.”
The inspector listed 26 conditions Gladman will have to meet, which include starting work on the home within three years and using natural stone and slate for its walls and roof.
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