Community Buy-Outs Preserving Pub Heritage For Next Generation

buy-outsHospitality specialists at Colliers International are backing community stakeholders seeking to keep their local pubs open.

The successful community purchase of the Packhorse in Southstoke near Bath is the latest in a series of bids from people which have saved local pubs threatened with conversion or closure.

The pub was saved after it was declared an asset of community value under the 2011 Localism Act – the first time this had been done by Bath and North-East Somerset Council.

Simon Wells, a hotels director at Colliers International, believes the trend is likely to continue as the UK pub sector fights back against a combination of rising prices and falling footfall.

He said: “Like so many community pubs, the campaign to save the Packhorse has suffered more than its fair share of ups and downs.

“The community stakeholders who have kept the light burning for the Packhorse may have negotiated the fundraising and legal hurdles against all the odds but they are not out of the woods yet – they still need to refurbish the old building before re-launching to the public.

“But it’s great to see another of our legendary watering holes has been saved for the community. As well as preserving a valuable community resource, our research tells us having a good pub in your locality can add up to 10 per cent on to the value of your home.”

The Bell, also in Bath, and the Fleece in Hillesley, Gloucestershire, have both been bought by community cooperatives and shareholder groups. The landmark Muddy Duck in Monkton Farleigh is being let to the villagers until a new landlord is found.

Simon Wells said community pubs could become an increasingly familiar feature of the UK hospitality sector, although only time would tell whether they were successful.

Colleague Peter Brunt said: “While the community stakeholder model is becoming fairly familiar, some communities will not have sufficient numbers of customers with adequate funds to make a donation toward their upkeep. We are aware of more than one occasion when a wealthy individual has come forward to save the local pub from closing.

“But we have seen many examples of old pubs being given a new lease of life though refurbishment, a new menu and imaginative diversification.

“Some of our buyers have turned the process of revamping failing pubs into a very lucrative fine art and there is no reason to think properly advised community owners shouldn’t prosper.”

He concluded: “Whether owned by individuals or run by community groups, as at the Packhorse, pubs must ensure they appeal to today’s typically demanding customer.

“A good website is essential to bring the customers in. Smart, tidy and contemporary facilities are a must and a traditional real fire welcome from landlord and staff helps ensure customers will be back for more.”