A LEEDS bar group is aiming to set up a new outlet in one of Otley's highest-profile listed buildings.

Stew and Oyster has submitted plans to convert the ground and first floor of the Old Grammar School in Manor Square, from offices and an art gallery into a restaurant and wine bar.

The business, which currently has outlets in central Leeds, Oakwood and Boston Spa, serves real ale and food and is owned by partners from eco-friendly development group Citu.

The Old Grammar School was built in 1614 and enlarged in subsequent years, and included renowned cabinet-maker and furniture designer Thomas Chippendale – whose statue stands nearby – among its pupils.

It ran as a school until 1883, when it was sold to Thomas Constable.

According to a heritage statement drawn up by Ethical Planning on behalf of Citu, the group "recognises that it has a responsibility to champion good design, appropriate methods and materials".

It is proposing to make only minor extensions or changes to the building's 2,450 sq ft of space, and says it will avoid making 'substantial' sub-divisions to its historic floor plan.

Citu says its aim is to "retain and enhance" the features that give the property its Grade II listed status, while opening it up to the public.

Otley Town Council's plans committee has no issues with the proposals for the building itself. It has, however, raised concerns about:

l the proposed use of outside tables and chairs, as it could cause disturbance to neighbouring properties

l the use of illuminated signs on a listed building, which it says would be unacceptable, 'overbearing' and could distract oncoming drivers; and

l the need for more details to be provided in terms of delivery days and times and access.

Otley Town Council chairman, Councillor Ray Georgeson (Lib Dem, Danefield), said: "My personal immediate reaction is one of cautious optimism.

"If this genuinely is sensitive to what is an iconic building in Otley, then all well and good.

"The proposed development should significantly enhance Otley’s growing good food and drink reputation."

The company behind the bid believes the new use as a restaurant and bar would "increase the attractiveness of the building as a destination venue, create a new vitality in Manor Square and act as a catalyst to further appropriate development".

The new Otley outlet is already being promoted on Stew and Oyster's website, which features opening times and a photo of the school, under the headline 'Coming Soon'.

Proposals will now be evaluated by Leeds City Council planners.