Threatened York pub The Frog Hall has won a stay of execution - to the jubilation of its supporters.

The delay is due to problems which are dogging proposals to clean up neighbouring contaminated land, the Evening Press has learned.

Developers Dransfield Properties are confident demolition of the pub will still go ahead - but it will "be at the end of the year". Work was originally set to start in August.

A planning application has been submitted to City of York Council for a new retail outlet in Layerthorpe, with a McDonalds drive-through restaurant and a video store.

But the plan, which involves cleaning up and reclaiming the area's former gasworks site, as well as the pub's demolition, looks set to be deferred.

A letter from Elizabeth Jarvis, the council's contaminated land officer, outlines problems with the proposed remediation process of the area's former gasworks site.

"The latest report submitted with the planning application is currently under consideration," she said. "However, a preliminary reading of this report would indicate that it is unsatisfactory. It does not address the issue of groundwater contamination.

She said the techniques proposed to deal with the soil contamination were inadequate and she believed that "limited confidence could be placed in these works".

She said: "It is likely that the Environment Protection Unit will recommend deferral of the current planning application, pending receipt of satisfactory remediation proposals."

Campaigner Sue Lacy, who has collected thousands of petition signatures against development plans for the community pub, said: "I'm delighted to hear this news. We are doing everything we can to save our pub and this is another step in our battle.

"We hope the problems being experienced will be permanent and will hold off the development altogether, not just create a temporary delay."

She added however that the pub's supporters still had "a few tricks up their sleeves".

Phillip Wilson of Dransfield Properties told the Evening Press he was resigned to the decision being deferred at the June meeting as more investigations into the clean-up operation would need to be made."This setback will not affect the project as a whole," he said.

"This is just part of the process, we didn't anticipate getting a decision at the June planning meeting."

A city council spokesman said: "Any information and advice from the council's environmental services team will be taken into account by planning officers in preparation of the report into this application which will go before the council's planning committee.

"As in all planning applications such advice will help form officers' recommendations as to the

viability of the application."

Updated: 11:01 Thursday, May 31, 2001