On September 29th the Yorkshire brewer Samuel Smith was duly grated planning permission to convert the old King Edward School building in Broad Street into a pub-restaurant with hotel accommodation on the upper floors. Given that the proposals are consistent with the Local Plan and that a licence was granted three years ago there was never much doubt about the outcome. Of course, our city centre needs a large new pub like a hole in the head but TARA believes that, after years of work on both the licence and the planning application sufficient safeguards have been imposed on the owner to ensure that this can never become a large stand-up boozer of the kind that has so disfigured our city centre in the past. Hours have been limited, only one smallish bar has been permitted and there are restrictions on the use of external areas to the front and rear. The licence requires that much of the floor space in the restaurant and bars be taken up by furniture.
And there are some positives. It is the case up and down the country that only the licensed trade can afford the expense of restoring some of our most vulnerable city centre buildings (O’Neill’s in Saw Close, formerly a Methodist chapel, is an example). At least the old school, which some TARA members attended, will be brought back to life and given a role and we will be able to get inside and have a look round.
And remember, before local architect Thomas Jelly built the school around 1754 the site had been occupied by the Black Swan – a pub.