What do you do when your local pub shuts for good and gets sold off to property developers with plans to turn it into some fancy flats? Obviously you raise money to buy it back with a law most people haven't heard of.
That's what happened in South Stoke in Somerset, where the local Packhorse Inn was sold to property developers six years ago. Naturally this angered local residents who preferred their local not be turned into homes that would likely be sold to people who aren't from round there. So they took matters into their own hands and used the 2011 Localism Act to turn the pub into a "community asset".
The act means that the pub entered the B&NES’ Assets of Community Value list in February 2013, and after the new owners decided to put the the former pub up for sale they had to finalise everything within a year. Initially a bid from the villagers had been turned down, but thanks to the rules of the act they were able to buy it back. In total they managed to raise £1,025,000 from 470 investors, with volunteers then spending 1,000 hour sorting out the interior and exterior of the pub ready to be reopened for the local populace.
The pub reopened yesterday, with the first pint being poured by 87-year old Brian Perkins who has a personal history with the building. Not only did his family used to run the pub, he was actually born inside and had his wedding reception there before being shipped overseas by the Royal Engineers.
The new landlord is James Dixon, who said
"It’s fantastic, the whole thing has been a fantastic story from beginning to end. It’s history, everyone bunched together and got behind the project. It’s a pub born from love. Everyone has the pub’s best interests at heart.
Every pub should be protected from developers, more should be done. This is a fine example of what happens when a pub is adored. Every pub should be the centre of the community, it’s where friendships are made and developed."
I wish someone would buy up the empty pubs near where I live, though, because currently they're abandoned and boarded up. Someone might as well put them to good use. [Metro]