Fifteen pubs in the South West have been barred from development without the knowledge of local drinkers, it was announced today, although even the campaigners that have succeeded in securing the status admit it gives little protection.
From the Bristol Channel to Salisbury, the pubs are among 100 given Assets of Community Value status in recent months, with the full list announced at the British Beer Festival today by Communities Minister Brandon Lewis.
The pubs in the West Country, among them some of the first to be granted ACV status anywhere in the UK are:
The Packhorse, South Stoke, near Bath. Listed February 2013.
The Shurton Inn, Stogursey, Somerset. Listed November 2012.
Notley Arms, Monksilver, near Taunton. Listed November 2012.
Barrington Oak, Barrington, Ilminster, Somerset.
Bristol House Inn, Milton, Weston-super-Mare. Listed June 2013.
Richmond Arms, Bath. Listed July 2013.
Jolly Huntsman, Kington St Michael, Chippenham, Wiltshire. Listed July 2013.
Peterborough Arms, Dauntsey Lock, Chippenham, Wiltshire. Listed July 2013.
White Horse, Quidhampton, Salisbury. Listed July 2013.
The Wheatsheaf at Chilton Foliat, Wiltshire. Listed July 2013.
The Castle Inn, Hereford. Listed March 2013.
Farmers Arms, Ledbury, Herefordshire. Listed November 2012.
Lamb Inn, Leominster, Herefordshire. Listed February 2013.
Moon Inn, Hereford. Listed February 2013.
Royal George, Kington, Herefordshire. Listed February 2013.
The status uses the Community Right to Bid powers introduced through the Localism Act, granting the local authority greater ability to refuse planning applications from developers - and hands the community up to six months to put in a bid to buy the pub.
Mr Lewis said: “We have known for hundreds of years just how valuable our locals are. Not just as a place to grab a pint but also to the economies and communities of those they serve and that is why we are doing everything we can to support and safeguard community pubs from closure.”
CAMRA’s chief executive Mike Benner said: “CAMRA is delighted that the Government has recognised the vital importance of pubs and empowered communities to protect them. By listing their local, communities are ensuring that if the pub is under threat in the future, there is a much-needed extra layer of protection which “stops the clock” should it be put up for sale.”
Last month, two pubs near Chippenham in north Wiltshire were given the status by Wiltshire Council chiefs. The Jolly Huntsman in Kington St Michael, which is a privately-owned and thriving freehouse, was nominated by parish councillors, while perhaps the most unusual inn to gain the status is facing a more uncertain future.
The Peterborough Arms closed a few months ago and Devizes-based brewery owners Wadworth’s have applied for planning permission to turn it into a house.
The pub is one of just three left that was built to serve the barge-runners on the Wilts & Berks Canal, and survived as a village pub for 100 years after the canal shut in 1910.
Now the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, which is restoring the 52-mile canal which links the Kennet & Avon to the Thames north of Swindon, has won the special status.
The canal enthusiasts now have less than six months to raise enough funds to buy the pub – but the special status merely means the owners have to inform the local community if the pub is under threat, not to act. Wadworth’s could simply ignore any offer that does come in from the canal enthusiasts, and convert it into a home permanently, before selling it for a much higher price.
The Packhorse in South Stoke, a 17th Century inn south of Bath, closed in May last year, after being sold by Punch Taverns, despite one buyer pulling out due to the strength of local opposition.
Ultravox front man Midge Ure, who lives near Bath, said: “The huge support from people in and around Bath and the West Country, even from abroad, shows how highly it is valued and why it should not be turned into a private office and house.”
Also owned - and deemed unviable - by Punch Taverns is The Richmond Arms in Bath, which also features on the list of pubs granted the ACV status.
Regulars at the Richmond are drawing hope - and advice from those who fought to save the Bell on Walcot Street, which is now owned by 538 of its customers and staff raised £600,000 after long-term owner Ian Wood put it up for sale.
Is your local pub in trouble or is it thriving? What is the future for community pubs? Should they be singled out for help or regarded as unprofitable relics of a bygone age? Let us know by writing to email@example.com.