Campaigners fighting to save a Sheffield pub got an early Christmas present this week when council officers said plans to turn it into a shop should be rejected.
Sainsbury’s revealed its plan to convert The Plough at Sandygate in August, confirming the fears of many living nearby.
The fight to save the pub began, and it was successfully listed as an asset of community value, or ACV - meaning it could not be converted without planning permission, and the community would have six months to bid for it if it went up for sale.
Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg and several city councillors joined the fight, and more than 150 people objected to the planning application.
And on the eve of Christmas, planning officers revealed their recommendation - that councillors should reject Sainsbury’s plans.
A report ahead of the planning committee meeting on January 10 said The Plough was considered to be a ‘valued community asset’ which, before its closure in April, supported a wide range of community groups and individuals.
Officers said Sainsbury’s had failed to show the building’s use as a pub was ‘unviable’ and ‘incapable of continuing to be used as such for the foreseeable future’.
Chairman of the Save The Plough group Peter Duff said the recommendation was a great Christmas present.
“We are really pleased and I think it reflects the strong local support there has been for the campaign to save it.
“It has been a long battle of nearly half a year but we did work before that to get it listed as an asset of community value, which is the real gist of the recommendation for refusal.
“The ACV is the main consideration - and quite rightly. If the council is going to have a policy then there’s little point in ignoring it as soon as a planning application comes in.”
Mr Duffy said the group hoped the pub could reopen, either under community ownership or that of a local brewery.
The Plough is opposite Hallam FC, the world's oldest football club.
MP Mr Clegg said: "This success is a credit to the local community who have rallied together and worked tirelessly to save their beloved local. I hope now the owners will work with the campaign to find a way to make this community asset a success once again."
Coun Adam Hanrahan added: "I'm glad the Labour Council has seen sense and hope that councillors will agree these recommendations and reject the plans to turn this historic pub into a Sainsbury's.
"Unfortunately, all too often pubs can be turned into convenience stores without planning permission.
"Labour cabinet member Jack Scott needs to follow through on the policy adopted from my council motion in September to look at an Article 4 direction, which would protect many more of our city's best loved pubs from development."
Today’s top stories: