Controversial plans to demolish the Middleton Arms pub and replace it with an Aldi store appear to have inched a step closer to reality.
Councillors on the east plans panel this afternoon voiced their overall support for the scheme, subject to the store being moved further away from the homes of local residents and better planting of trees and bushes to mask the site from residents.
The application was again deferred by councillors – who had visited the site earlier this morning – to allow planning officers to negotiate the changes with the developers. The proposals have divided opinion in Middleton.
Aldi’s plans for a 990 sq m store with 75 parking spaces, which would create between 20-30 jobs, had been recommended for refusal by planning officers who were concerned over the loss of a historic building and the potential impact on neighbouring houses.
But city councillors at the Civic Hall, while regretting the loss of a landmark building, said the impact on residents could be reduced by moving the store to the left of the site, away from the housing. They were concerned that the building was deteriorating and subject to vandalism.
Councillor Robert Finnigan (Morley North, MBI) said:
“Many years ago I used to spend a lot of time at the Middleton Arms, so I share the emotional attachment that many in the community have. In my heart I think; ‘retain it’ but my head says that there is no plan B for the site. It is a fine building but has deteriorated and is subject to fires from vandals.
“There is no doubt that the community needs the jobs – it is not always a good reason to approve applications like this, but at this point it is important that something happens in the area.
“I have to stress that there is a lot of work to be done to ameliorate the issues facing the neighbouring residents and these need to be resolved.”
Guiseley and Rawdon councillor Graham Latty (Conservative) also expressed concern about the deterioration of the building. He said:
“I cannot see the point of making a huge song and dance about keeping the building when something could take its place which is of use. On balance I regret losing the building but I can’t see any reasonable way of keeping it.”
Chairman councillor David Congreve (Beeston & Holbeck, Labour – pictured left) suggested commemorating the landmark pub with a plaque at the new development, should it gain planning permission.
Councillor Don Wilson, (Rothwell, Liberal Democrat) suggested it would be good to save some of the ornate brickwork from above the doorway and incorporate it into the new scheme if possible.
Councillors unanimously agreed to defer the application to allow planners time to negotiate with developers over the positioning of the store on the site and more screening near adjoining houses. Officers will prepare a report for the panel to consider following the negotiations.
Below is a copy of the planning officers’ report considered by councillors: [scribd id=70628017 key=key-yignksku44nzez87ooj mode=list]
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