Community plan to rescue pub
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