PLANS to transform two of Otley's oldest pubs have been condemned as 'corporate vandalism'.

Star Pubs and Bars Ltd has announced proposals to undertake 'transformational' refurbishments of The Black Bull and The White Swan.

Both pubs are Grade II Listed and within Otley Conservation Area - with The Black Bull, reputedly drunk dry by Cromwell's troops in 1644, believed to be the town's oldest.

Star Pubs and Bars, part of Heineken UK, wants to remove The Black Bull's historic signage and replace it with a modern stencil design as part of a makeover to produce a lighter, contemporary look.

The plans for the White Swan, meanwhile, involve replacing its multi-room interior with 'industrial style furniture, contrasted with softer botanical features and finishes' to create a 'trendy, city-centre feel'..

Otley Pub Club has written to express strong opposition to both proposals, and started a petition against the plans for The White Swan.

Chair Matt Hardin said: "Both the Black Bull and the White Swan are listed and in a conservation area, so it’s disgraceful that Star Pubs and Bars have come up with such inappropriate plans.

"They are historic pubs, both centuries old and this character should be preserved and celebrated not destroyed by being absurdly turned into modern, trendy venues which just won’t work - as well as being architecturally destructive.

"We urge Star/Heineken to put these dreadful plans on hold and meet with the community and the excellent, sitting licensee of The White Swan to discuss how they can and should work with him to keep the pub as it is, respecting the will of the community and regulars."

Club President Greg Mulholland added: "The plans are appalling and akin to the kind of corporate vandalism seen back in the 1970s and 1980s.

"What’s so disgraceful about Heineken/Star’s plans for The White Swan is that the pub is successful, with a very loyal clientele, all of whom would be alienated by these awful plans.

"It is also deeply revealing that these ill-considered refurbishments not only mean unrealistically higher rent for the licensees, but that they lose their legal right to go free-of-tie via the Market Rent Only option.

"We urge Heineken to learn more about the Otley pub scene and work with the community, and with proven successful landlord Chris Shippey at The White Swan, to ensure these two fine pubs can continue to serve Otley with their existing, historic character intact."

A spokesperson for Star Pubs and Bars said: "We thank the Otley Pub Club for their feedback on these investment plans.

"We always take the views of the local community into account when investing in a pub, and look forward to meeting the group to talk through the plans in more detail."