Tuesday, 01 December 2020

Villagers angry after council says pub has no community value

THE pub in Crazies Hill will not be registered as an asset of community value.

THE pub in Crazies Hill will not be registered as an asset of community value.

Wokingham Borough Council has turned down an application by Wargrave Parish Council to give The Horns the protection.

The application was made after former landlords John and Sarah Schlaefli left in February and the Brakspear pub closed. It re-opened in July with new tenants, Adam and Sandra Purdy.

In its application, the parish council said The Horns was the last remaining pub for Crazies Hill and Cockpole Green.

It said: “The Horns is and needs to remain the heart of the village. Without it there will be nowhere that can act as a casual meeting place where residents and visitors can come together and create the community cohesion that is essential in keeping Berkshire villages alive and thriving.

“The Horns defines the identity of the village. If it is allowed to close as the village pub and be transformed into just another dwelling, the sense of community in Crazies Hill, which is currently so strong, may be irreversibly impacted.”

The pub is a regular meeting place for community groups including the Crazies Hill and Cockpole Green Residents’ Association, the village cricket team and ramblers and runners.

It has also provided car parking for parents with children at Crazies Hill Primary School. The borough council said the pub failed to prove community value.

It said: “Its current use, and use in the recent past, does not further the social wellbeing and interests of the local community and it is not realistic to think that there will be a use which furthers social wellbeing and interests within the next five years.”

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. At a meeting of the parish council on Monday, Wargrave parish clerk Stephen Hedges said members could consider an appeal.

“This piece of legislation was put together specifically for public houses,” he said.

Councillor Philip Davies, who is a member of the  residents’ association, said: “The local opinion is horrified and any letters we require to support an appeal will be  forthcoming.”

Tess Dixon, another member of the association, said: “The reasons for turning the application down are nonsense. In a community with no other facilities to meet in on a regular basis, The Horns offers a benefit to the whole village.

“The school’s parents’ association, the residents’ association and sports clubs all hold meetings and annual get-togethers there and it’s a venue where the community can come together.

“For people who live on their own, to pop in and know they will always get a warm welcome and find someone to talk to is invaluable, especially for those who no longer have a car in a village with no public transport.”

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