Celebrations as pub will now be serving a brand new community

The Railway pub in Pontefract has been saved as a community asset.
The Railway pub in Pontefract has been saved as a community asset.

A pub that was on the brink of being bulldozed to make way for housing has won a campaign that will protect it for at least another five years.

Supporters are celebrating that the Railway Inn at Pontefract has been listed as an asset of community value (ACV), meaning it is granted protection from future development.

Drinks all round: The pub is now regarded as an asset of community value.

Drinks all round: The pub is now regarded as an asset of community value.

The pub on Mill Dam Lane was earmarked for closure last year as developers planned to build more than 80 homes on the surrounding land.

But after regulars got together, backed by MP Yvette Cooper and councillors, they were able to persuade the developers, Towngate PLC, to allow the pub to survive.

And now they have won extra protection for the Railway Inn thanks to the successful ACV application.

Regular Paul Banfield said: “Everybody is over the moon, this is like having the Holy Grail - that ACV certificate is proof that is can’t be touched.

“It’s a relief really, there are pubs everywhere that are failing and are not closing when this one thrives and was under threat.

“We just want to thank all the councillors and Yvette Cooper who have all chipped away with this one.

“We’d also like to thank Nick Love, who is the pub protection officer in York for CAMRA (Campaign For Real Ale), who has already helped save six pubs in York who helped us tremendously.

“We hope this inspires people whose pubs are under threat, that it is worth fighting for.”

The group, known as the Friends of the Railway, are now planning to make a log of all charity and fundraising events to strengthen their case when it comes to renewing the ACV.

As part of the Localism Act, successful ACVs applications will see a building placed on a list for five years.

During this time, if the owner decides to sell the property, they have to inform the council which then triggers a six-month moratorium period, giving the nominator - usually a community group - time to develop a proposal and raise the funds to be able to bid for the asset.

Landlady Maggie Senior contacted the Express in August last year after she was left stunned by the plans to close the pub.

She had already spent almost £12,000 on improvements including new projectors for the World Cup this summer.

Plans were submitted to Wakefield Council to build 80 homes on the surrounding land, but made no reference to the future of the pub.

A campaign launched by the Friends of the Railway quickly followed and collected more than 1,100 signatures.

Towngate PLC eventually abated and offered Mrs Senior another five-year lease.

Despite this, supporters were still eager to make the pub an ACV to give it as much protection as possible. The application was initially rejected by the panel of judges at Wakefield Council, however, after tweaking the application it was approved on March 5.

Work has already started on demolishing the surrounding buildings, many of which belonged to the old Carlton Furniture Group. Mr Banfield said: “It’s taken us six months in all .

The pub would have closed within two weeks if we’d not had this campaign.

“It’s been a long slog but it’s been worth it.”

MP Yvette Cooper added: “The pub is always a busy and vibrant hub in the heart of the community because of the hard work that Maggie has put in over the years.

“We fought hard to keep the pub open when it was threatened by developers, so asset of community value status is an important step forward in protecting the Railway Inn for the future too.”