Historic Sheffield pub granted protection against development

Mandy Billings and Jon Terry behind the bar at The White Lion, in Heeley
Mandy Billings and Jon Terry behind the bar at The White Lion, in Heeley
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A much-loved Sheffield pub which is steeped in history has been granted protection to preserve its standing as a 'community hub'.

The White Lion, in Heeley, was recognised by Sheffield City Council as an 'asset of community value' (ACV) following an application by regulars at the watering hole.

The White Lion was hailed by Camra as a 'community hub'

The White Lion was hailed by Camra as a 'community hub'

That means the building cannot be knocked down or converted without planning permission, and if it goes on sale the community has six months in which to make an offer. There is no suggestion the White Lion is due to be put up for sale.

Landlords Jon Terry and his partner Mandy Billings took over the reins 18 months ago at the pub, which is owned by Punch Taverns.

The couple, from Meersbrook, had been regulars there and decided to take the helm as they felt it 'needed a bit of revitalisation'.

Jon, from Meersbrook, said: "Getting listed as an ACV is great news for the pub and for the community. There are a lot of groups around here that depend on the pub as a place to meet.

"This is another notch for Meersbrook and Heeley. It's becoming a destination area because of its great pubs, restaurants and businesses."

Jon previously worked for a homelessness charity and Mandy as a social worker, and neither had so much as pulled a pint before taking over.

But although it sounds like a radical change, Jon said it was not that big a switch since running a pub was very much about 'people skills', as were their old jobs.

"We tried to model it on what we wanted from a pub," he said.

"We thought back to what we enjoyed about drinking there, which is that it was a very eclectic place, with everyone muddling along together. It's always been the sort of place where you would get a plasterer chatting over a pint with a lecturer."

The White Lion dates back to 1781, and the Grade II-listed building is notable for its green glazed tiles and elaborate stained glass windows.

It was recently recognised by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) as having an interior of 'outstanding historic interest', and was Camra's Sheffield pub of the month for October - reward for the wide range of beers it has on tap from Sheffield and across the country.

The watering hole is known for championing local bands. It has free live music most evenings, and was last year named the best music pub in Yorkshire and the north east.

It also hosts regular charity events and opens its rooms to local groups for everything from PTA meetings to knitting and photography get-togethers.

The Heeley White Lion Group, a coalition of 120 local residents who nominated the pub for ACV status, described the pub as a 'social focal point'.

The application was supported by Camra, which has encouraged punters across the city to put their locals forward for protected status.

Councillor Jack Scott, the council's cabinet member for community services and libraries, approved the application on Thursday, November 17.

He said: "Sheffield is a great beer city and has been named the real ale capital of the world. It's brilliant to see people so passionate about protecting their local pubs.

"I'm very pleased to have granted The White Lion asset of community value status which will help protect its future use. This year we've processed more applications than ever and are here to give advice about how more venues can gain this status."

Councillor Cate McDonald, one of the local councillors and cabinet member for health and social care, said: "The White Lion is a great pub and it's clear to see the benefits it brings to the local community.

"There's loads going on there from providing a free meeting place for local groups to running charity events, pub quizzes and live music."

The White Lion is the 13th building or plot of land in Sheffield to achieve ACV status, and the eighth pub.

Tweeting about the announcement, Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh, who supported the campaign, wrote: "Delighted that @whitelionsheff has been named an Asset of Community Value. Congrats to all campaigners on hard work."

Richard Short, secretary of Sheffield & District Camra, described the recognition as a 'credit' to Jon and Mandy, who he said had transformed the pub into a 'community hub'.

But he claimed Sheffield was still 'lagging behind' other local authorities, like Leeds City Council, which he said had awarded ACV status to more than three times as many pubs.

"Listing The White Lion is fantastic news and well-deserved but there is a long way to go - Sheffield boasts over 450 pubs but only eight have been awarded ACV status," he added.

The council recently rejected an application to make the University Arms pub in the city centre a community asset.

It has yet to make a decision about an application for The Cherry Tree Inn, in Carter Knowle Avenue, Brincliffe Edge, which Co-op has applied to demolish and replace with a new grocery store.

The full list of pubs in Sheffield with ACV status is:

Castle Inn, Bolsterstone

Castle Inn, Bradway

Plough Inn, Sandygate Road

Three Tuns, Silver Street

Sheffield Tap, Sheffield Station

Bath hotel, Victoria Street

Cremorne, London Road

White lion, London Road

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