Campaigners have just over five months to raise £365,000 to buy a pub that closed last year.
Campaigners have just over five months to raise £365,000 to buy a Brighton pub that closed last year. It is back on the market after planners refused to grant permission to turn it into flats.
The Rose Hill Tavern Action Group voted overwhelmingly to try to raise the money at a well-attended meeting at Calvary Church in Viaduct Road. Representatives from two comparable projects – The Bevy and Exeter Street Hall – offered their support for the group.
The group succeeded in having the Rose Hill Tavern, in Rose Hill Terrace, Brighton, listed as an asset of community value (ACV) after it was closed and sold by Enterprise Inns. Evenden Estates, the new owners, challenged the listing twice, but each time the campaigners won the day.
Evenden nevertheless asked Brighton and Hove City Council for planning permission to turn the pub into a couple of flats. A report backed the proposal, but councillors rejected their officials’ advice and threw out the plans.
Now the campaigners have just under a fortnight to register their interest in buying the property and just under six months to raise enough money. They could still be outbid, but any rival buyer would almost certainly need to propose a community use for the property given its status as an ACV.
Dave Boyle, one of the campaign leaders, said: “Where we stand now is at a crossroads. We either go forward or we go home. If we go forward, we have just five and a half months to come up with the goods.”
He added that the pub did not have to be reopened as just a pub. It could be a community centre, a café, an arts venue, or a mixture of anything the group felt would be more useful than flats.
Andrew Large, a campaigns officer from the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), said: “It’s lots of very hard work and a daunting amount of money to raise but very rewarding. There’s nothing like going into a pub and having your first pint knowing what you have done to get it going.”
And Warren Carter, from the Bevy co-op pub in Bevendean, added: “The 200th pint still tastes really good. All I see down the London Road is exactly the same kind of venue. What you lot are trying to do is more than a pub.”
Iain Chambers, from Exeter Street Hall, which is run by residents who bought it from the Church of England, said: “However daunting it feels, you have almost got nothing to lose. It’s closed down anyway. If you believe in it, it’s worth giving it a shot.”
He also offered practical support, saying that the hall would be happy to put on a fundraising event for the group.