As you may be aware, The Cross Pipes on Westgate has been going through a troubled time recently. Financial difficulties have caused the sale of the pub. This historic and beautiful building, built in 1762, has been a pub for centuries and it would be a huge shame if it went the way of the Yeoman, Summercross and Woolpack and become lost forever.
We were delighted to learn that a cash buyer came forward wanting to refurbish the pub, and restore the B&B accommodation for the exact sale price.
The prospective buyers have sent us an open letter explaining the current situation:
However, it appears the selling agent wants to start a bidding war and has opened the offer to the highest bidder! This will bring forward developers who may want to turn this historic famous old pub into houses, flats, restaurant…who knows what?
You can read more on the Cross Pipes including a brief history here: http://www.otleypubclub.co.uk/otley-pubs-present/the-cross-pipes
We are urging the selling party to reconsider this action for fear of losing this iconic historical pub forever. Here is our letter to them…
Leonard Curtis Leeds
Leeds Insolvency And Business Recovery
7 Park Row
6th July 2022
Dear Mr Williams,
URGENT – the historic Cross Pipes pub in Otley
We are contacting you as a matter of urgency about the historic Cross Pipes in Otley.
The Cross Pipes is one of Otley’s oldest pubs, dating back to 1762. There is a very brief history of the pub on our website here. It is also the only pub named the Cross Pipes in the country, making it truly unique, as well as an important part of Otley’s history and heritage, as well as Otley’s pub scene.
As you know, a local buyer has offered the full asking price for the Cross Pipes, of £240,000 and is also a cash buyer. We were absolutely delighted to hear this and fully support this. They have exciting plans to continue and finish the refurbishment of this historic pub (and in an appropriate way) as well as to refit the upstairs rooms to be bed and breakfast accommodation. Which is a much-needed addition to the lack of B&B accommodation in the town at the moment. This is a very exciting – and very viable – business.
We were, however, utterly dismayed to hear that instead of accepting this offer, your nominated estate agents have stated, “our client has decided that they will be inviting best and final bids by 12th July” giving the impression that it will go to highest bidder, regardless of their intentions for the pub. This is deeply troubling, when there is a bid for the Cross Pipes as a pub. Other interested parties may choose to close, convert and redevelop it, meaning it would forever be lost to the town and community, even when there is an offer on the table as a pub, at the price you are seeking.
We are writing to you to implore you to accept the offer (or another offer as a pub, if there are any), but what is essential is that you allow the Cross Pipes to remain as a pub, knowing that there is an offer that would match the asking price and with potential new owners ready to refurbish the pub and give it a bright future.
As administrators, your role is to sell the pub to recoup the debt and we fully understand that. Now that you have been offered the asking price (and a cash offer) as a pub, then you can fulfil your role, as well as knowing that the Cross Pipes will continue to be a pub and continue to serve the local community and contribute to the Otley economy. This is very clearly what you should do and we urge you to do so. It would allow you to fulfil your role as well as being a very positive outcome for the community, so it is in everyone’s interests.
As you know, the reason the pub is up for sale is that the previous licensee managed (after several years of asking) to buy the pub from the pub company that owned it and was carrying out refurbishment to both the pub and the upstairs letting rooms, to create a very viable business as a public house and inn. Sadly, the cost of the refurbishment was greater than expected (with this being yet another example of where a pub-owning company has neglected to maintain an historic pub building). The new owner borrowed money but with the work taking longer than expected, was not able to start the repayments. This is clearly a sad and unfortunate situation for the previous licensee, however this does not give any justification for a sale for non-pub use, when there is a purchaser very keen to carry out the necessary refurbishment to both the pub and upstairs rooms.
We are aware that because of the reason for the sale of the pub (to recoup the debt associated with it) that you as owners/vendors do not have to follow the process laid down in the Asset of Community Value (ACV) legislation. The fact is, however, that the pub has been recognised as an Asset of Community Value and therefore that is has real importance to the local community in Otley. That remains the case. We hope, therefore, as an ethical company, that you will respect this which means accepting an offer for the pub as a pub, so it can continue to be a pub, as it has for so long and can continue to serve the community.
The loss of the Cross Pipes would represent a wholly unnecessary loss of a historic, unique pub. There is also not enough overnight/bed and breakfast options for people visiting Otley so allowing the Cross Pipes to be lost forever would also stop it being used for this purpose going forward, as well as the loss of the pub.
It is not a ‘former pub’, as the for-sale sign claims, it is a pub that has operated as a pub for years, indeed centuries, and its current status is simply that it has been temporarily closed for a refurbishment that stalled due to lack of funds. This does not make it a former pub. It is a pub that is for sale and should be being sold as a pub – and with at least one bid as a pub, it must remain as a pub.
It would be appalling if this historic, viable pub is lost forever due to you deciding to ignore an offer for the Cross Pipes as a pub, simply to take a higher amount of money, when the offer is the asking price specified. We are aware that there are parties looking at the pub hoping to redevelop/convert it, in other words, to cash in on the very unfortunate situation with the previous licensee and seek to make money, regardless of the loss to the community and Otley’s heritage.
We will vigorously oppose any planning applications to convert the Cross Pipes into anything else and would cite the fact that an offer at the asking price, as a pub, was ignored. This shows that the pub is not only viable but is wanted by a local pub operator. To approve conversion in those circumstances would breach planning guidance, which makes clear that the unnecessary loss of pubs must be resisted.
National Planning Policy Framework policies 83 and 92 of the NPPF that councils should seek to plan positively for the provision of pubs and to resist their loss. Section 83 states the importance of “the retention and development of accessible local services and community facilities, such as local shops, meeting places, sports venues, open space, cultural buildings, public houses and places of worship”. Section 92 states “To provide the social, recreational and cultural facilities and services the community needs, planning policies and decisions should…plan positively for the provision and use of shared spaces, community facilities (such as local shops, meeting places, sports venues, open space, cultural buildings, public houses and places of worship) and other local services to enhance the sustainability of communities and residential environments…guard against the unnecessary loss of valued facilities and services”
In the current situation, where there is a cash buyer offering the asking price of the Cross Pipes as a pub, any conversion would without doubt represent “the unnecessary loss of this public house and community amenity”.
There are cases where unscrupulous owners deliberately ignore bids (including at market value) for pubs, to deliberate profit by selling them for development or conversion, showing no regard for the feelings of the community, the impact on the local economy or the history and heritage of any area. We trust that Leonard Curtis is not in this category.
We note that Leonard Curtis prides itself on saving businesses. You have an opportunity to save the Cross Pipes pub as a business and as a community amenity, as well as seeing it preserved as an important part of Otley’s local history and heritage. Not accepting an offer as a pub would destroy this business, historic pub, community amenity forever. Surely that cannot be something you wish to do. Its future is in your hands.
We will the first to thank you if you do the right thing and sell the historic Cross Pipes as a pub. On behalf of the local community, we urge you to do this.
Otley Pub Club
cc Dan Booth, Group CEO, Leonard Curtis
Otley Town Council/all Otley Town Councillors
Leeds City Cllrs Campbell, Downes and Lay
Alex Sobel MP for Leeds North West
Campaign for Pubs