Ex-cus­tomers are urged to help save vil­lage pub

Macclesfield Express - - BUSINESS - STU­ART GREER

CAMPA I G N E R S fight­ing to save a vil­lage pub at the heart of a close-knit com­mu­nity are ap­peal­ing for for­mer cus­tomers to help save it from de­vel­op­ers.

The Black Swan in Lower Withing­ton was a pop­u­lar meet­ing place un­til last year when it sud­denly closed and was put up for sale.

Now reg­u­lars fear the coun­try­side spot could be snapped up by prop­erty de­vel­op­ers and are ask­ing Cheshire East Coun­cil to list it as an ‘As­set of Com­mu­nity Value’ in a bid to safe­guard its fu­ture.

Al­though their first ap­pli­ca­tion has been knocked back, the ‘Friends of the Black Swan’ now plan to ap­peal and have al­ready re­ceived the back­ing of CAMRA, the Cam­paign for Real Ale.

Fion­nu­ala Keen and Tim Pear­son are spear­head­ing the cam­paign and are now call­ing for com­mu­nity groups who used to use the venue to get in touch.

Fion­nu­ala, a phar­ma­cist who lives in the vil­lage, said: “We know that lots of groups in­clud­ing cy­clists, book clubs and the var­i­ous PTAs from lo­cal schools used to meet there reg­u­larly. But the coun­cil wants writ­ten ev­i­dence of those meet­ings and that’s what we don’t have.

“We’re in touch with groups in the vil­lage, but we know that oth­ers would have come from fur­ther afield such as Mac­cles­field, Con­gle­ton, Holmes Chapel and even Wilm­slow and Alder­ley Edge. Be­cause it’s a very ru­ral area there is no other amenity – no shop, no post of­fice – and the Black Swan was the only place that peo­ple could meet up.

“It was the real heart of the com­mu­nity for many years, we just don’t want to lose that and by pro­tect­ing it we hope to one day see it re­open as a pub.” The ‘As­set of Com­mu­nity Value’ sta­tus is given to land or prop­erty deemed to be of im­por­tance to a lo­cal com­mu­nity and if granted would give the pub, on Trap Street, greater pro­tec­tion from de­vel­op­ment.

In its re­jec­tion let­ter the coun­cil said “Whilst a num­ber of groups had been iden­ti­fied as us­ing the Black Swan as a pub- lic house and eat­ing es­tab­lish­ment, in­suf­fi­cient doc­u­men­tary ev­i­dence had been pro­vided to sup­port for­mal or group meet­ings and other ac­tiv­i­ties that had taken place which prove the com­mu­nity use of the build­ing.”

A spokesper­son for Cheshire East Coun­cil said: “The orig­i­nal ap­pli­ca­tion to es­tab­lish The Black Swan as an ‘as­set of com­mu­nity value’ was re­jected as the ap­pli­ca­tion did not meet the re­quired cri­te­ria. We have li­aised with the com­mu­nity group and un­der­stand that they will be mak­ing a sec­ond ap­pli­ca­tion in time for a steer­ing group meet­ing on Mon­day June 5. The next de­ci­sion group meet­ing is sched­uled for Tues­day June 27.

If you can help email Fion­nu­ala at info@ keen­phar­macy.co.uk or Tim at tm.pear­son@me. com.

Cam­paign­ers out­side the Black Swan in Lower Withing­ton

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