Vil­lagers’ vic­tory as pub’s sta­tus as as­set is up­held

Judge tells court he does not ac­cept re-open­ing as com­mu­nity pub is ‘un­fea­si­ble’

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A COM­MU­NITY’S hopes of res­ur­rect­ing a his­toric for­mer vil­lage pub have been boosted after its sta­tus as a ‘com­mu­nity as­set’ was con­firmed by a judge.

The Pheas­ant Inn, in Ballinger, op­er­ated from the mid-19th cen­tury, but fall­ing num­bers led to its doors clos­ing for the fi­nal time in 2008.

Its owner, pen­sioner Jane King, had at­tempted to run it partly as an up-mar­ket restau­rant, but her busi­ness plans failed.

She now wants to sell up and move out of the vil­lage, where she con­tin­ues to live in the for­mer pub build­ing.

How­ever, com­mu­nity mem­bers in Ballinger, a set­tle­ment of 300 peo­ple near Great Mis­senden, want to re­turn it to its orig­i­nal state.

After an ap­pli­ca­tion, Chiltern District Coun­cil des­ig­nated the pub as an “as­set of com­mu­nity value” in 2013, giv­ing it ex­tra pro­tec­tion from de­vel­op­ment.

But Mrs King tried to over­turn the list­ing.

She has seen now her case re­jected by Judge An­thony Snel­son at the First-Tier Tri­bunal.

In a rul­ing made in late July, but only now pub­lished, Judge Snel­son said there was a chance the pub could re-open in the fu­ture – given the Ballinger Com­mu­nity Group’s ef­forts.

The group be­hind the cam­paign con­tains busi­ness-savvy peo­ple, who had made two re­al­is­tic of­fers to buy in the past, he said.

“I do not ac­cept that the idea of re-open­ing the Pheas­ant as a com­mu­nity pub is un­fea­si­ble,” he con­tin­ued.

“Ru­ral pubs cer­tainly face dif­fi­cult trad­ing con­di­tions, but some suc­ceed.

“The ex­tent to which the lo­cal com­mu­nity is be­hind a res­cue is likely to be a cru­cial fac­tor. There is ev­i­dence of strong back­ing in the vil­lage for BCG’s plans.

“More­over, the group in­cludes hard-headed peo­ple with com­mer­cial and pro­fes­sional back­grounds and is clearly not fu­elled by sen­ti­ment alone.

“The of­fers al­ready made are tes­ta­ment to the fact that it has the means of rais­ing a sub- stan­tial sum.”

He re­jected Mrs King’s bid for a re­view of the pub’s list­ing as a com­mu­nity as­set.

The com­mu­nity as­set sta­tus means com­mu­nity groups must be given the chance to buy and re-open it if it is put up for sale.

There is ev­i­dence of strong back­ing in the vil­lage

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