Com­mu­nity plan to res­cue pub

Bath Chronicle - - NEWS - Dena Shoe­bridge Print writer 01225 322273 dena.shoe­bridge@reach­plc.com

Cam­paign­ers, who are hop­ing to save a 19th cen­tury pub in Bath from be­ing turned into a house are con­sid­er­ing the op­tion of a com­mu­nity buy­out in a bid to keep their lo­cal. Last month more than 150 peo­ple at­tended an open meet­ing to dis­cuss the fu­ture of the Rich­mond Arms in Lans­down. Con­cerned res­i­dents and cam­paign­ers packed out St Stephen’s Church, in Lans­down Road, on Septem­ber 12 to meet and speak to the cur­rent own­ers of the pub, which has been closed since Novem­ber 2017. There has been an on­go­ing bat­tle to keep the once pop­u­lar pub open with cam­paign­ers see­ing off a move to con­vert the Rich­mond Arms into a home more than five years ago. Af­ter the meet­ing, at which own­ers Ru­pert More­ton and Jamie Rock­man dis­cussed ways to keep the pub open with res­i­dents, cam­paign­ers have now looked into what they can do to en­sure it doesn’t close its doors for good. The res­i­dents are now con­sid­er­ing a com­mu­nity buy­out, where they will buy the pub as a busi­ness from the cur­rent own­ers for a fair price and run it them­selves. An­gela Ma­caus­land, who has been in­volved with the cam­paign to save the Rich­mond Arms for five years, said although it’s very early days the re­sponse to the idea of the com­mu­nity buy­out has been pos­i­tive so far. She said: “It is very, very early days and we have emailed ev­ery­one who came to the last meet­ing to try and gauge peo­ple’s opin­ions on what they want to hap­pen with the pub. “So far we have had a good amount of re­sponse from peo­ple who have said they would be up for a com­mu­nity buy-out which is great. “All we want is a com­mu­nity pub which is open. At the mo­ment the ap­pli­ca­tion to turn it into a home is still open and the de­ci­sion is still out­stand­ing. “Ob­vi­ously if a com­mu­nity buy­out was de­cided it is go­ing to be a lengthy process. It won’t hap­pen overnight but if we get the right sup­port, fi­nan­cially and with peo­ple help­ing in other ways, then hope­fully the pub will be here to stay.” An­gela said she had been given words of sup­port from cam­paign­ers and now own­ers of South Stoke’s Pack­horse Pub, which was saved from clo­sure by a com­mu­nity buy­out. The 17th cen­tury pub opened its doors again ear­lier this year af­ter cam­paign­ers reached their £1mil­lion tar­get to re­open un­der com­mu­nity own­er­ship. The pub had been closed to pun­ters since 2012 and a four-year cam­paign was fought to buy it back from a de­vel­oper. Although cam­paign­ers of the Save the Rich­mond Arms group have dis­cussed plans to po­ten­tially buy­out the pub as a com­mu­nity, other op­tions have also been dis­cussed. The own­ers have said they were con­sid­er­ing dif­fer­ent busi­ness mod­els in­clud­ing their orig­i­nal in­ten­tion to keep it as a vi­able pub with food and find­ing a good tenant pro­vid­ing a rea­son­able rental in­come to the own­ers. An­other op­tion, also dis­cussed, was to make it less of a pub and more of a ‘cork­age’ style venue with bot­tled drinks and small plates. If that failed, the own­ers would ap­ply for change of use with a sup­port­ing vi­a­bil­ity state­ment to of­fer ac­com­mo­da­tion which is due for con­sid­er­a­tion by Bath and North East Som­er­set Coun­cil next month. The Rich­mond Arms owner Ru­pert More­ton met some rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Save the Rich­mond group on Sun­day. He said: “We dis­cussed a num­ber of items in­clud­ing a pos­si­ble sale to a com­mu­nity group. This was in fol­low up to a num­ber of emails and com­mu­ni­ca­tions we have sent out.” There have so far been two com­mu­nity pub buy­outs in Bath and both have been very suc­cess­ful. The Pack­horse, is one ex­am­ple, and an­other is The Bell Inn, in Wal­cot Street. On Satur­day, The Bell Inn is cel­e­brat­ing five years since it be­came the largest com­mu­nity pub in the UK. The pub is cel­e­brat­ing from 6pm by hav­ing DJ sets and live mu­sic with pizza in the gar­den. There will be new mem­bers plus some of the orig­i­nal board who helped save the pub who will be avail­able to an­swer ques­tions from the pub­lic.

The Rich­mond Arms has been closed since Novem­ber last year

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