Hello White Lion supporters, and apologies for not being in touch recently.
Following the success of the Pop up pubs we ran we took a short break, and then were at the mercy of other events, of which we are sure you are aware.
Let’s take a short time to recap.
When you think about it, the project to save the White Lion from residential development has had its fair share of hurdles. Since the first petition in 2013, we have faced and overcome-
· Planning decisions and tribunals
· Getting the property listed as an Asset of Community Value, Twice!
· A visit to the High Court over the use of the Pub as a residential property.
· Further Tribunals as the Owner appealed the second ACV, Twice!
· And all the while the Owner does not negotiate a sale despite offers from us.
And now we face more issues that impact our project, the cost of living increases, the fuel cost increases, and potentially a further period of austerity politics.
It is interesting to note that according to the Community Pubs Network, new community pubs are still opening, and very few appear to be experiencing difficulties, showing that where there is strong community backing these pubs work.
So what are we doing?
· We are changing the emphasis of the project to include more Community aspects. It became so apparent during the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations that Crays Pond and the surrounding area needed the White Lion as a community meeting place.
· We are rewriting our Business plan to include more Community uses of the property, whist still having a Pub / Restaurant at its heart. We have had a variety of suggestions for community use from our supporters, and will incorporate those where we can in a phased roll out of community facilities. If you have suggestions of your own please get in touch
· We have been in contact with SODC to consider a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for the property. As the property remains unused and deteriorates the council has powers to agree to purchase it for the community as long as the community can cover the valuation price and costs. Our conversations with SODC are on-going and we ask for your support. If you have contact with the local and district council, please tell them that this makes sense for the community area around the White Lion.
· We have a Community Interest Company (CIC) and now we are considering also using a Community Benefit Society (CBS) as this route allows for a more ‘Mutualised’ ownership of the property with a 1 person 1 vote structure. It may also open other Grant Funding opportunities not available to a CIC. It could also mean we could get our ‘Fundraising’ activated and hold money in a protected bank account. This will help with the CPO discussions.
· We will use our revised business plan to apply to the Community Interest Fund for financial support to buy and improve the property. There are 8 more bidding rounds and the fund is available until 2025.
· We are expecting the owners’ opposition to a further period of ACV status (from 2024) and are preparing the groundwork accordingly. The ACV status may now not be so important given that potential planning changes to the property will be opposed, if they don’t include the pub property as a viable going concern.
So plenty to do as we continue to work towards our goal.
An Invitation to you all.
On a lighter note the POP UP PUB will be open again in December as we hold a social evening of Food, Drink, Music and Carol singing.
We have a date of the 22 of December reserved at the Crays Pond Scout Hut and we hope you will put this in your diary and come and join us.
Your support for this event will be very helpful to the cause, and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible.
More information is to follow in a separate newsletter, together with a simple response system to gauge attendance to help us prepare
The Crays Pond Community Group
For further information please contact us on the Email address below.
CPCG Officials: Fiona O’Brien – Chairperson. Bill Pechey – Secretary. Chris Hurst – Treasurer
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