A HISTORIC pub that closed down due to the pandemic could be turned to housing to “ensure the building’s survival.”

The Hermit Inn in Burley Woodhead was named after a local eccentric who lived in a hut on Ilkley Moor, and dates back to the 18th century.

Late last year the pub, on Moor Road, announced that due to the pressures of the pandemic it would not be re-opening.

Now a planning application has been submitted to Bradford Council to convert the building into two houses.

The application, by Gillian Kelly, says the pub’s taking had been declining even before the pandemic, and there had been little interest from any buyers in buying the remote hostelry.

It says: “The last three years of trading we have made significant losses. Theses are all pre Covid, which of course has had a further detrimental impact on the business, especially with our older clientele.

“We have had to pay full rent throughout the Covid pandemic and have a long lease we can not ‘escape’.

“Therefore we have proceeded to acquire the Freehold of The Hermit, but with the knowledge of how trading is and has been we are looking to return the pub to a residential home.”

Flats plan for listed former pub is approved

It points out that when the pub operated a track and trace system in its final months, it became clear that the majority of its customers came from outside the Burley Woodhead area.

An ageing population and little prospect of any new housing in the area meant that it was unlikely the pub would see a drastic upsurge in customer numbers if it did re-open after lockdown.

Few changes would be made to the outside of the building if the plans are approved, other than the construction of a garage.

The application also refer’s the the pub’s history, and its well known namesake.

It says: “The public house was formerly known as the Woolpack but the name changed to The Hermit in honour of Job Senior, a local eccentric who lived in a hut on the moor.

“Local folklore recalls that Senior serenaded crowds of locals who congregated at his ‘primitive domicile’ by Coldstone Beck, above Robin Hole.

“According to Burley Local History Group, Senior was born in 1780 and worked as a labourer before retiring to his shack on Ilkley Moor.

“After which, he received donations from those who came to hear his chants. Senior’s funeral drew a huge number of mourners and he is buried in the churchyard in Burley-in-Wharfedale.”

The plans point out that the pub is a relatively isolated spot, and because of this does not act as a community hub like many villages pubs do.

The application adds: “The original character of this well loved building is retained and enhanced by the alterations detailed within this application.

“Whilst the continued use of the building as a public house can not be sustained this carefully considered conversion to form two dwellings seeks to ensure the memory of The Hermit Inn is preserved.”

A decision on the planning application is expected in April.