Landlord 'learned from neighbour' about plans to convert Sheffield pub into housing

Pub landlord Gary Bell with regulars at the Firwood Cottage
Pub landlord Gary Bell with regulars at the Firwood Cottage
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A Sheffield pub landlord has spoken of his shock after hearing from a neighbour about plans to convert the watering hole he has run for 16 years.

Gary Bell, who manages the Firwood Cottage, in Walkley, says he knew the owner Punch Taverns wanted to sell the building.

The Firwood Cottage pub in Whitehouse Lane, Walkley

The Firwood Cottage pub in Whitehouse Lane, Walkley

But he claims he only learned an application had been made to convert the pub into housing after being approached by a concerned regular.

"I knew the building was up for sale but it was only when a neighbour showed me a letter he'd received that I found out about these plans, which came as a bit of a shock," said Gary, who lives above the pub in Whitehouse Lane.

"It's a really nice little community pub and there are lots of locals who want to see it stay that way, as do I."

Living Property Solutions has applied for planning permission to make the pub a house of multiple occupation with communal facilities, accommodating up to 12 people.

Gary Bell behind the bar at the Firwood Cottage pub

Gary Bell behind the bar at the Firwood Cottage pub

The application was submitted in December but some locals say details of the plans were only sent to a handful of surrounding residents.

The deadline for comments passed on Tuesday (February 7) and more than 30 people wrote to Sheffield Council's planning department to object.

Among them was Matthew Barber, of nearby Joseph Road, who described the pub as a 'social hub' for people young and old, which he said drew people from across Sheffield and South Yorkshire.

Dr Paul Schatzberger, who lives around the corner in Carr Road, wrote: "This public house is a popular local amenity, change of use of which would represent a significant loss to the community of the amenity, one of the only two remaining pubs in the neighbourhood."

Sharon and Robert Wild, who live on the nearby Langsett estate, are also fighting the plans. The couple, who have been drinking at the pub for more than 30 years, said locals were in 'uproar' and the proposal would be 'another nail in the coffin for Walkley'.

Complaints have also been raised about the density of the accommodation planned and its possible impact on parking and traffic in the area.

Local ward councillor Neil Gibson said the proposed rooms were so small they resembled 'rabbit hutches'.

He said his two fellow ward councillors also opposed the plans, as they would mean 'the loss of another great institution in Walkley'.

A spokeswoman for Punch Taverns said: "We can confirm that we have accepted an offer for the Firwood Cottage, however nothing is yet complete.

"The Firwood Cottage is still open and trading and we did not submit any planning application. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused."

The Star attempted to contact the developer, Living Property Solutions, but has not received a response.

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