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 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.
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?
[Last updated 12.10.14, 09.16am]