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From Ilkley Gazette, March 8th, 2021
Written by Claire Lomax

A CAMPAIGN has been launched to save the historic Hermit pub in Burley Woodhead.

A planning application to convert the 400-year-old pub into residential accommodation is currently out to public consultation and a decision is expected by Bradford Council in April.

Efforts are now underway to set up an association in the village which will seek to register the pub as a community asset with Bradford Council and oppose the planning application.

Regulars down the years have included TV presenter Richard Whiteley and Alfred Brown, one of the most widely read writers of books about walking in Yorkshire. The Hermit’s name derives from an 18th century man who lived in a hut on the moor, from where he serenaded locals.

The campaign to Save the Hermit has won all party backing from local Shipley MP Philip Davies (Conservative) as well as Burley-in-Wharfedale resident and former Keighley MP John Grogan (Labour) and former MP for Leeds North West Greg Mulholland (Liberal Democrat) who is now the Campaign Director of the Campaign For Pubs.

Burley Woodhead Resident Nick Hooper said: “On my daily walks around the hamlet I meet many Woodhead people who express their sadness at the plans to convert The Hermit to housing.

"The strength of feeling in the area is sufficient to start a campaign to nominate The Hermit as an Asset of Community Value and try to save it as a pub.”

Colin Speakman, author and walking enthusiast who lives in Burley-in-Wharfedale said: “The Hermit is a popular and much-loved ramblers’ inn, part of our local heritage, used by walkers over many generations after enjoying local footpaths or hiking over Burley Moor. Its loss would be tragic.

"It is also a reason for people to come to the area, stay longer and spend money. This proposal will, therefore, affect the wider local economy.”

Peter Down, Acting Chair of Bradford CAMRA said: “The plans to convert the Hermit into expensive residential properties is another example of an attempt to convert a pub due to its development value, which ignores the value of the Great British pub to its community. There are numerous examples of pubs being disposed of by large pub companies to help service their own debts and then being bought as development opportunities. The case of the Sun Inn at Cottingley is a recent example within the Bradford District. The Bradford Branch of CAMRA strongly opposes the plans to permanently close the Hermit Inn and convert it to residential use. The pub should be saved to continue to serve an important community function to the residents of Burley Woodhead and others who visit.”