More powers are needed to preserve Sheffield's pubs and other community buildings, says the man who refused to grant protected status to a threatened watering hole.
Councillor Jack Scott claims existing legislation meant he was unable to approve an application to list The Cherry Tree Inn, in Brincliffe Edge, as an asset of community value (ACV).
He has vowed to continue lobbying the Government to give councils additional powers to protect community buildings.
But CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) says Sheffield Council is not making good enough use of the law as it stands, having rejected nearly two thirds of the applications it has received to protect pubs.
Campaigners battling to save the Cherry Tree had hoped the nomination would help scupper plans to demolish the premises and replace it with a food store.
The Co-op has already applied for permission to open a new outlet at the site in Carter Knowle Avenue, and councillors are set to make their decision on February 14.
Had the Cherry Tree been listed as an ACV, community groups would have been granted six months in which to bid for the building were it put up for sale.
Coun Scott, Sheffield Council's cabinet member for community services and libraries, said he had been left with 'no option but to decline the application' due to insufficient evidence had been provided of the pub's benefit to the community.
Despite the decision, he said he was keen to see more groups applying to protect buildings across the city by getting them listed as community assets.
"We have to follow the law as it stands though and can't just award the status to any building," he said...
"I will continue to lobby the Government to provide more powers to councils to help them protect community facilities."
Mike Hodson, secretary of Carter Knowle & Millhouses Community Group, which submitted the application, said the council appeared to be demanding greater evidence of local support than was required by law or expected by other local authorities to approve ACV applications.
He also criticised the council for postponing the decision, which was made on Wednesday, more than a month after he says the group was told to expect a ruling.
He said this left little time for the group to challenge the verdict ahead of the planning meeting at which the pub's fate will be decided.
"What the council does seem to have ignored is evidence that there was an alternative offer to take over the pub, invest in it, and run it as a more community-based venue - one backed by people with experience of both management and catering," he added.
Dave Pickersgill, of Sheffield & District CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), which had backed the application, also expressed his disappointment at the outcome but said he was not surprised.
"There have been 22 ACV applications for Sheffield pubs: only eight have been successful," he said.
"Before submission, the majority of these applications were compared to successful ACV applications elsewhere in the country.
"The council is continuing to ask for more information that is legally required. In short they have raised the bar above and beyond that which is expected by the legislation."
Enterprise Inns, which owns the building, claimed that falling trade meant keeping the pub open was no longer a viable proposition.
"After careful consideration we decided to explore alternative uses for the property and are in discussions with Co-op," said a spokesperson for e.i. publican partnerships.
The Co-op said it believed a new store could 'greatly improve' the choice available to local shoppers, as well as creating new jobs in the area.
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