The Full Story

The background

For those who don’t already know, The Yorkshire Lass is a unique and much-loved landmark building on a landmark site, located just before the listed High Bridge on one of the main routes in to Knaresborough. It sits within the Green Belt, Knaresborough Conservation area, and the Nidd Gorge Special Landscape Area.

Sadly the former pub has been sat empty since 2007. Planning permission back in January to build 14 flats was unanimously refused by Harrogate Borough Council. A new planning application for 4 flats has now been submitted and once again the Yorkshire Lass is facing demolition.

Earlier this year the property came to my attention, and we have a vision for redeveloping this building as a thriving community hub, arts centre, and tourist destination.

Following extensive research it’s become clear that the local community think of and speak very fondly of this building, and many comments have been publicly shared over the years expressing how eager locals are to see it brought back to life. We believe the Yorkshire Lass can be an iconic statement for Knaresborough and for Yorkshire and we would like to do justice to its legacy, bring it to life, and give it back to the local community.

The vision

The Yorkshire Lass should be an accessible social space with a core aim to be ‘for the benefit of many’. Practically we see that as being a pub, cafe, rehearsal and studio space, community centre, music venue, exhibition space and much more, all rolled into one. As a hub we want it to be connected and totally tuned in to the needs of local businesses and the surrounding community. It’s role is not to detract from all the other wonderful businesses and activities going on in Knaresborough, but to link with, support, and enhance them. Quirky and welcoming, we want The Yorkshire Lass to be all about creating talking points. We want people to feel so comfortable when they visit that it feels like sitting in the lounge of an old friend.

If the opportunity arises to take this vision forward, we want to work with the community to bring it all to life. We read the Welcome To Yorkshire 5-year strategy and their aims ‘to grow the Yorkshire brand’ with interest. In particular the goal to ‘Keep developing Yorkshire pride’ struck a chord. Encouraging local people to play a part in saving and regenerating this much loved community asset will promote positive values, self-worth, and community spirit, giving the people of Knaresborough an achievement and a lasting asset to be proud of for generations to come.

Today there are many examples of successful take over and community ownership projects, and this is becoming increasingly common. We would love The Yorkshire Lass to be another one of those stories. There is now a whole load of support out there as well as grant funding and a range of options on fundraising and investment strategies with exactly this type of project in mind.

We’ve been working for the past few months on shaping up this vision and, in view of this current planning application, we decided to take action.

The Yorkshire Lass as a Community Asset

Communities now have rights when it comes to community facilities. An addition to the Localism Act 2011 was made in 2012 which enables communities to nominate ‘Assets of Community Value’. This places a building or land on a council register and should the building be offered for sale the community has up to 6-months to prepare a bid to take it over.

In the absence of any other body stepping forward to do this, we approached Knaresborough Civic Society (As a registered charity they are eligible to nominate community assets) and we have now compiled and submitted an application to request The Yorkshire Lass is deemed an ‘Asset of Community Value’ and added to the council register.

Aside from the official criteria of what a ‘community asset’ is, we believe it can be defined as a facility that the community value, feel passionate about, speak warmly of, and are vocal about retaining. Something that touches or has touched them and their lives at some point.

Planning objections

In addition to this move we also reviewed the current planning application documentation in detail and have now submitted various good planning reasons why the application should not be granted. Since submitting this letter I have learned that Harrogate Borough Council has removed the planning application from public view as they have realised there is ‘vital information missing’ and are seeking this before they can re-validate it. The details of this are unclear.

We understand that written planning objections are also ready to be submitted by Knaresborough Civic Society, Harrogate Civic Society, and Harrogate & Ripon CAMRA, as and when the application appears back online.

Some final words

The opportunity to formally register an asset of community value is still very new, only coming in to effect as part of the Localism Act in late 2012. Local councils and communities are only now becoming aware of this option and what it means. We believe that it is for this reason only that the Yorkshire Lass has not been registered already.

In addition, the growing support and funding available for community and social ventures such as this mean that there are new doors open to us. With this in mind ‘saving’ the Yorkshire Lass and regenerating it as a community asset Knaresborough can be proud of once again is a very real possibility for the first time in a long time.

We are trying to find a big voice and make a difference to and for the good of our local community. This also presents the perfect opportunity for us to demonstrate the bucket loads of true Yorkshire passion and pride we have, as well as how much we love where we live.

Care to join us?

You can email us at info@yorkshirelassknaresborough.com or go back to the Home page to see the different ways you can get involved.

[Last updated 12.10.14, 09.16am]

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4 Comments

  1. Good luck in your efforts to save The Yorkshire Lass public house. I have tried to defend this important community asset on numerous occasions when unsuitable planning applications have been submitted for this site. Unfortunately on the last occasion the town council vote overturned our objections. they along with officers at HBC now seem to accept the principal of housing development on this site and appear to be simply disputing the details. However there is a small core of councillors both at town and borough level who wish to see the pub retained as a community facility of some description, either a pub or other community use. Once this site has been developed for housing we will have lost something valuable in the town for ever. This must not be allowed to happen.

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    • It’s great to hear that there are councillors that are still fighting for this.. I believe there are alternatives here – more options and support available than ever before – and that enough voices and passion can make this happen – Rachel x

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  2. Rachel,
    I do admire what you are trying to do, and as you say the building was / is fantastic, but I am not quite sure where this money is going to come from to fund this ‘community bid’. I again see the building is suggested as Multiple use, but the multiple use you suggest is already in place in Knaresborough. Chain Lane Community Centre was deemed ‘surplus’ only a few years ago by the leeds uni (I think it was), and the Community Centre on Stockwell has been under used and not financially viable for years, despite offering internet, facilities for bands and use of hall (all at a very low cost) and it was a race between who wanted to withdraw funds first to maintain this building. There are already many cafes in Knaresborough, as there are pubs, and this building has stood empty for years, perhaps if it was as popular as mentioned then it wouldn’t have been empty in the first place?
    I would no doubt expect to see a selection of ‘Councillors’ jump aboard a project like this, largely as a way of becoming involved with the community, putting faces to a ‘community project’ and securing local press – Sorry to be on a downer here, but this is a realistic view and one I have worked in and seen over a good few years.

    I would suggest that initially there would need a huge amount of money put into this project, and to start with a building like this would be very well used, but once novelty dies off and the ‘new factor’ has been erased, I find it very hard to see how financially this could make money / be able to survive without investment from the Local Council who at this moment cant even afford to have lights on in dark areas as of a night let alone fund a huge redevelopment project like this. Where is the money being suggested is available for a project of this size for a population as small as around 16k?

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    • Hi David – Totally take your points, but there’s nothing like this already in Knaresborough. The pub closed at a really challenging time for traditional pubs and was put on the market at an extortionate rate, and both the pub offer and funding options available have moved on massively since. I think this place has a real chance, and I believe it’s more doable than ever before. It could be great again – different to before – and a total asset to Knaresborough and the local community – Rachel

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