Punters and fellow publicans have raised a glass to landlords who transformed the fortunes of a historic Sheffield pub.
The White Lion in Heeley has become the city’s eighth watering hole to be recognised by Sheffield Council as an ‘asset of community value’.
The newly conferred status means the building on London Road 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.
Landlords Jon Terry and his partner Mandy Billings were regulars at the pub, which dates back to 1781 and is owned by Punch Taverns. They decided to take the reins 18 months ago as they felt it ‘needed a bit of revitalisation’.
They have restored its reputation as a venue for live music, purveyor of fine ales and, most importantly, a community hub – supporting all manner of local groups and charities.
Getting the pub listed as a community asset is the latest stamp of approval for their efforts, and regulars were quick to toast the achievement.
Alison Slack said: “Well done, love this pub. We had some great nights in here.”
John Cashman said: “Keep up the good work.”
Paul Jones hailed The White Lion as the Sheffield’s ‘best pub music venue’, and Nancy Blakestad said Jon and Mandy were the city’s ‘best landlords’.
Jojo Snelgrove, who runs a pub in Walkley, said it was ‘such a hard trade to be in these days’, adding ‘hats off to you’, while Ian Beall said it was ‘great to see a pub doing well and bucking the trend’.
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 Jon, who described the listing as ‘great news for the pub and for the community’, said they had simply tried to restore the community feel which made it such a draw in the past.
“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 Heeley White Lion Group, a coalition of 120 local residents who nominated the pub for ACV status, described it 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, who approved the listing, said: “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 have processed more applications than ever and are here to give advice about how more venues can gain this status.”
The White Lion is the 13th building or plot of land in Sheffield to achieve ACV status, and the eighth pub.
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.
PUBS WITH AVC STATUS
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