Call to force historic inn owner to restore pub

The Moorcock Inn. Photo: John Illingworth.

Custodians of the Yorkshire Dales National Park have been advised to launch enforcement action to restore a pub that has served a remote community for 260 years before being converted into a home, a tearoom and holiday accommodation without consent.

The park authority’s planning officers have recommended its committee of community representatives and government-appointed experts authorise ordering the owner of the historic Moorcock Inn in Garsdale, near Hawes, to reverse an extensive series of changes including returning the bar and public areas to their original use.

The officers have advised Joanne Cox is ordered to remove all the tearoom and holiday let fixtures and fittings that have been added, including from external land, fenced enclosures and window and door alterations.

In a planning application lodged last month, agents for Mrs Cox state after selling another house nearby she is “looking to downsize” and start living at the premises, the only pub in Garsdale, converting the bar area into her home.

The application states: “At the same time, because of falling trade in the public house business, the applicant was looking to change the use of the rear part of the property from the manager’s residence/office space into a licensed tea room. At the same time the applicant is retaining three letting rooms within the property for overnight accommodation, with breakfast of required.”

Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council said while the closure of the inn was “sad”, it was “unrealistic in the current economic climate to expect this to operate as an inn at this time”.

The application was lodged following building works to transform the pub sparked uproar in Garsdale, triggering dozens of objections, including one which described the unauthorised changes as “cultural vandalism”.

Opposing the change of use, Campaign group Friends of the Dales said the inn had “long served the local community and been a welcome refuge to those passing by whether walking on the fells in Mallerstang or over to Dent Dales or using the railway through Garsdale train station”.

A Friends of the Dales spokesman said: “It has also been seen as a community hub which is commented on by the many responses from people living nearby.

“What was once a thriving Inn has more recently been viewed as one that has not been supported by the owners with frequent closure and erratic hours.

“The area is popular with visitors and the improvements in public transport through rail and bus, is bringing more people here in holiday lets and day visitors.”

In a report to the meeting on Tuesday (April 23), planning officers said while the pub was remote, Garsdale Head has some similarities with other locations with remote but successful Inns, such as at Ribblehead and Tan Hill.

They added should the former railway line between Hawes and Garsdale Station become available as an accessible trail, there was “significant potential for Garsdale Head to become a sustainable visitor destination”.

The report states local plan policies require robust evidence from those proposing to close pubs to demonstrate a lack of viability or suitable alternative options and recommends refusing the change of use and serving an enforcement notice.

The report concludes: “Whilst a tearoom, letting rooms and holiday accommodation may be an alternative business model, the proposal is not of equivalent standard to the existing. The fencing and signage removal is also visually harmful.

“Overall, the proposal is considered to be harmful to community vitality, the rural economy, and harmful to the cultural significance of the building…”

2 Comments

  1. Use it or lose it comes to mind, far to often Local Communities Stage a protest without understanding the reality of the Commercial World, they resist and deny Second Home and Holiday Rental Ownership which bring in valuable revenue streams to local Communities, they declare themselves supportive but never use the Pubs and wonder why Owners who started out with good intentions find themselves looking at alternatives to avoid Bankruptcy, comparisons to Tan Hill and Ribbleshead are Commercial Fiction in this instance, a route of Local & Regional support and subsidy is the way to go coupled with shared Community Ownership if you wish to keep these types of establishments viable and operational

  2. I find it unbelievable that Hawes Parish council supported this! Aren’t they supposed to look after the interests of their residents rather than the interests of one person?

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