JD Wetherspoon given approval for first Lake District bar

The old police station in Keswick Image copyright Google
Image caption JD Wetherspoon amended its initial proposal following opposition

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has been given the go-ahead to open its first Lake District bar.

National Park planners have approved the firm's bid to convert Keswick's former police station and courthouse into a 450-capacity pub and restaurant.

The company said the project would create more than 50 jobs, which it hoped would be filled locally.

Opponents claimed a pub was not a suitable new use for the building and that it would harm local businesses.

Among those opposed to the original planning application was the Victorian Society, which looks to protect listed buildings.

However, following amendments, it altered its stance.

James Hughes, the group's conservation adviser, told BBC Radio Cumbria: "It's a nationally important building, it's a building with great character and a particular grandness.

'Mess about'

"It's listed because of the extent of its preservation, particularly the formal courtroom, which retains a full suite of its furniture.

"The previous proposal would have seen a bar placed within that courtroom and all of the surviving furniture mentioned in the listing description removed."

A spokesman for the company said: "We are delighted that we've got planning permission for what will be our first pub in the Lake District.

"This is a big step for us, but there is no way we will mess about with what is an important building in Keswick.

"We still have licensing permissions to gain, but if all goes to plan we could see the site open by late this year or early 2015."

The building was one of dozens put up for sale by Cumbria Police Authority in August 2013 as it attempts to save £20.3m from its budget by 2016.

It had been co-owned by the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and Cumbria County Council.

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