Sunday, 22 October 2017

New bid to have village pub listed as community asset

WARGRAVE Parish Council could challenge a decision not to list the Horns pub in Crazies Hill

WARGRAVE Parish Council could challenge a decision not to list the Horns pub in Crazies Hill as an asset of community value.

But any chance of a successful appeal could hinge on community groups considering raising funds to buy the pub, even though Brakspear says it has no intention of selling it.

Assets of community value were introduced in the 2011 Localism Act and give communities six months to bid on a property before it can be sold on the open market.

The Horns closed in February last year after landlords John and Sarah Schlaefli left after just 18 months in charge. 

It re-opened in July with new tenants, Adam and Sandra Purdy, the seventh landlords in as many years.



Wargrave Parish Council applied to Wokingham Borough Council to have the pub listed as an asset of community value but was turned down.

The parish council argued that the Horns was the last remaining pub for Crazies Hill and Cockpole Green and defined the identity of the villages.

It said community groups including Crazies Hill and Cockpole Green Residents’ Association and the village cricket team used the pub as a meeting place and it provided car parking for parents with children at Crazies Hill Primary School.

The borough council ruled that the pub did not “further the social wellbeing and interests of the local community”.

It added: “It is not realistic to think that there will be a use which furthers social wellbeing and interests within the next five years.”

At a parish council meeting on Monday, clerk Stephen Hedges said: “We are looking at challenging that decision.

“We are in the process of collating data and several members of the community have copied us in on their comments.

“One issue is the benefit the premises would have because the borough council will only consider commercial properties if they would be a significant loss. That’s one area where we have sufficient information as the pub is the heart of the  community.

“The other element is with regards to funding for any possible purchase. The borough council asks that community groups consider their ability to raise money within the six-month window and if all the information can be put together beforehand then even better.”

Councillor Phil Davies, who is a member of the residents’ association, said he didn’t think it was right to consider raising funds unless the pub was for sale.

He said: “That’s a little bit horse before cart. If it comes to pass that Brakspear was looking to exit then the community at that time would look at whether they are interested and have that opportunity first.

“To get into the finance before the listing is something we wouldn’t be able to do very sensibly. The association would like to have an option but whether we could complete that I don’t know. What has incensed the community is the basis of the refusal.”

Council chairman Richard Bush said: “It falls to the parish council and the residents’ association.

“If the association said it would consider raising the funds would that be enough? You can’t go round with a begging bowl.”

Mr Hedges said the community had no obligation to raise any money unless it was planning to make an offer but said the borough council did ask interested parties to consider if a bid could be achieved.

He said: “It’s not a requirement that it is done beforehand, it’s just that there should be some consideration of whether it would be possible in the six-month window.

“As the body that nominated it, if no other organisation wanted to buy the pub, it would fall to the parish council to register an interest.”

To register your support for the pub, email office@wargrave.org.uk



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