Parish Council declines to review Policy on Henry Jenkins

Parish Council members have resisted calls to carry out a policy review  – following fierce criticism of their past support for plans for the demolition on of the Henry Jenkins.

More than 20 parishioners attended a heated meeting of Kirkby Malzeard Parish Council on Monday – the first to be called since last week’s decision by a Government Inspector to dismiss Mr Fielder’s appeal against refusal of planning permission.

There was  outspoken criticism of the Parish Council, who supported Mr Fielder’s original plans to demolish the Henry Jenkins and redevelop the site with housing – and continued to support his plans after planning permission was refused.  It was suggested the Parish Council had still not shifted its position, one parishioner called on councillors to resign en masse and at one stage the meeting was suspended.

Speaking for the Henry Jenkins Community Co-op, Richard Sadler said the chances of Mr Fielder ever getting permission for his original plans were now very remote – but there were concerns that he would sit on the pub, continue to refuse offers to buy it and allow the building to remain in a ramshackle state for years to come.

Mr Fielder was asked by councillors if he would be prepared to enter into negotiations with HJCC, who made a fully funded offer to buy the Henry Jenkins in December.  However, he said he “did not trust” members of HJCC and would be proceeding with plans to split the property into three and sell off the “flat” on the first floor. As an Asset of Community Value, the Henry Jenkins can only be sold as a community facility and any change of use would require planning permission. Mr Fielder, whose position and general attitude was criticised by several parishioners, declined to elaborate on how he would sell parts of the Henry Jenkins or who he would sell them to.

In response to charges of bias, several councillors spoke to say there was no secret agenda and that they were trying to be even handed. The chairman, Howard Mountain, said everyone agreed that it was in no one’s interests for the Henry Jenkins to be left to deteriorate. However he said there would be no review of the parish council’s position until after  local council elections in May.

The Parish Council was presented with the latest interim results of an Opinion Survey being carried out by HJCC volunteers in Kirkby, Laverton and Dallowgill. Of 170 forms returned so far, more than three quarters of respondents support plans for a regenerated Henry Jenkins, based around the proposed core business of a family bistro, coffee shop and real ale bar. Once the survey has been completed forms will be handed to the Parish Council for verification.

Last month a Government Planning Inspector, John Morrison,  dismissed an appeal by Mr Fielder against Harrogate Borough Council’s decision to refuse panning permission for the demolition of the Henry Jenkins.

He said the decision was in line with national and local planning policies designed to ensure there was a broad range of facilities in rural communities. He added that he was not convinced that the potential re-use of the Henry Jenkins as a going concern had been sufficiently investigated – and that the owner had left the building in “very oppressive, dark and sorry state.”

Study Tour of Community-owned Pubs

Supporters of plans for the regeneration of the Henry Jenkins will this month begin  fact-finding tour of community-owned pubs with the support of the Plunkett Foundation, the Government-backed charity that provides support and expertise for community buyouts.

Study visits of combined pubs, cafes and restaurants in Derbyshire and Yorkshire are being supervised by a business advisor with experience of helping to facilitate successful community enterprises across the UK.

HJCC committee members will also be joined by  local supporters with business experience in the hospitality sector.

It is proposed money for the purchase and refurbishment of the Henry Jenkins should be raised with a combination of community shares, grants and loans. HJCC is eligible to apply for up to £100,000 in funding from the Plunkett Foundation as well as a number of other grant-giving bodies. At this stage formal pledges to buy community shares are not being sought – that will not happen until a fully-costed Share Prospectus and Business Plan have been published. Informal pledges so far been made to the value of more than £80,000.

Community bid for Henry Jenkins remains on the table

HJCC would like to restate that our offer is still open to buy the Henry Jenkins for £180,000, its full market price as determined by a professional Valuation Report. Our offer, originally made in December, has so far not been accepted by the owner. We remain ready and willing to enter into negotiations at any time.