The White Lion was once the heart of Crays Pond, and enjoyed by those from the wider community.
Since being sold in 2013, our village, and our community has been without a Pub.
We, The Crays Pond Community Group are a local organisation who are working to reclaim the pub to preserve and improve the amenities of Crays Pond and the surrounding area, for the benefit of all of the community
This website is for anyone who would like to support us in getting our pub re-opened and give the village back its heart and soul.
HISTORY OF OUR CAMPAIGN
The White Lion has traded for years (1860 Census) and with landlord tenants of a Brewery since around the 1950s.
Over the years, The White Lion enjoyed a lot of success as a pub-restaurant. It had a cosy bar, large restaurant area, beautiful outside dining and gardens and a spacious car park.
The most recent successful landlords were there up until about 2008.They built the business up though a superb offering from the pub in all seasons to the local community and beyond. What they accomplished demonstrates that the White Lion can be successful.
The pub was then run by a series of poor managers, with intervals of temporary closure “for refurbishment”, during one of which the Parish Council applied for it to be an Asset of Community Value (ACV). Greene King however made the decision to advertise the pub through Fleurets as a Pub Investment and sold it in September 2013.
THE WHITE LION - 2013 TO PRESENT
The White Lion was sold in 2013, and the local parish council managed to get the property listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). A private owner bought the property and then applied for planning permission for residential use. The application was rejected by South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC). The owner appealed the decision but this was also rejected.
Despite both the application and appeal being rejected, the owner continued to live at the property and was fined for non-compliance with the planning law but he continued to live at the premises. In February 2019, the owner was taken to the High Court where he was instructed to vacate the property. This time he complied.
A new 5 year ACV was granted in spring 2019 which the owner challenged however this was rejected by SODC.
The owner appealed the decisions made by SODC however with the support of our local Councillor, Peter Dragonetti and the legal team at SODC, this last appeal was also rejected in December 2020.
The property has remained empty and unused, despite the owner stating he wants to reopen the pub. Recently (May 2021) he announced he was putting the property up for sale and the ACV process was triggered. The Community Group set up a Community Interest Company (CIC) and made the owner a written formal offer to purchase. The owner then announced he was withdrawing the property from sale.
The formal offer from the CIC remains on the table for him to engage with, as does, we are advised, an offer for him to grant a tenancy.
And so The White Lion today still stands empty, deteriorating, depreciating and neglected, its’ grounds unkempt and uncared for and subject to occupations by travellers.
It is no longer the beating heart of our village.
This situation is also true of many Public Houses in the hands of developer owners who seek to circumvent the ACV legislation and the will of local communities for personal profit.
Our group want to see The White Lion thrive again. In order to do this, we would like the pub to be purchased by the community for the use of the community and others beyond our immediate catchment area. We strongly believe that with the right team The White Lion can once again become the beating heart of the village providing local services, offering employment and being a vital Hub for the community.
Despite some owners holding on to such property letting it go to ruin to circumvent the ACV provisions there are many successful community pubs in the UK. Locally the Crown at South Moreton in South Oxfordshire is a good example. We would follow a similar model whereby the pub would be owned by the community but run by a tenant with oversight from the CIC and community.
We would also support the pub reopening with another owner or tenant who wishes to run a sustainable, commercial business serving the community.
We remain ready and willing to discuss a sale with the current owner and agree a price on which we can move forward.
If the owner will not offer the property for sale to the local community, and at an agreed valuation, we may have to use other ways of reaching our objective, with a Compulsory Purchase Order being the last resort.
As with many other similar situations the owner can simply hold onto the property and not offer it for sale, this negates the value of an ACV which limits the sale initially to the local community.
One way out of this dilemma is for the local community to press the local council to Compulsory Purchase (CPO) the property (a power which they have) and then to pay the Council the purchase price and cover their legal fees. This is a process that other communities are taking successfully with CPO’s being agreed by councils in North Devon and The Forest of Dean to name two examples.
A CPO also enables to community to pay a realistic price for a run-down property, but having to raise not only the Purchase Price but also cover the Councils legal fees.
The White Lion can live again!
It can be ‘Your Pub’ offering the services you have asked for in our supporters’ survey.
We already have significant pledges of support both financial and of infrastructure, and government and other grant funding is available for the venture, once a sale is agreed or mandated by a CPO
It can be ‘Your Pub’ again and so much more.
Please support our vision and join our many supporters by completing the details below and we will be in touch.
You can also make us a promise of financial support by using our fundraising page on this website.
Let's save our White Lion as OUR Community Pub and so much more.
You know it makes sense.