East Keswick Parish Council is moving to protect a string of community buildings and land by adding them to a list of assets of community value.
The Old Star Inn, the Duke of Wellington Inn, West End Stores, and East Keswick Sports Ground will be subject to what is known as a community right to bid after all four sites were nominated for inclusion by the council.
In taking advantage of the right to bid, which came into force in 2012 as part of the Localism Act, the council has identified these sites as furthering the community’s social interests and wellbeing.
This then gives the community a fair chance to make a bid to buy the property or land on the open market if the owner decides to sell.
East Keswick Parish Council chair Gaynor Anning said: “East Keswick Parish Council, along with all other parish councils, has been given the right to bid for properties or land that the council feel are important assets to their community, and would like them to continue as they are at present for the benefit of the village.”
These local moves towards preservation have been supported by Harewood ward councillors Matthew Robinson and Ann Castle.
Coun Robinson (Con) said: “All four of these bids have been recommended for approval and it is to the credit of the parish council that they have seized this opportunity and taken it with both hands.
“Through this mechanism, East Keswick will hopefully continue to have local shops, pubs, and sports clubs and through that continue to have a thriving community.”
Coun Castle (Con) said: “One of the key buzzwords in today’s world is localism, and this is an indication of what communities can do if they use existing legislation.
“While it will require a lot of work and funding, if these vital facilities ever became available for sale, villagers would be able to try to take on ownership and make a go of them.”
From the date the landowner informs Leeds City Council (LCC), which holds the list of assets, of their intention to sell, community groups have six weeks to decide whether they want to bid to buy the site. The landowner is then prevented from selling the property for six months unless it is to a community organisation.
An LCC spokesman said: “Community right to bid enables communities to protect what they feel are vital community buildings.
“The two pubs, shop and sports club are some of the only publicly used buildings in the village. In that sense they help keep the community together and offer vital services and social opportunities.
“Throughout Harewood there are few public buildings and few council owned buildings, so protecting these buildings is a way of ensuring that they can be kept in use for the future.”
The Wetherby News made several attempts to contact the pubs and shop, however no-one was available to comment.