In 2015 an Asset of Community Value was applied for and given to protect the Plough in Covenham St. Bartholomew from development as housing. Bateman’s Brewery sold the pub to a developer (Julian Bland) for £200k or £180k depending whom is asked about the purchase price. Unlike residential properties, sales prices of commercial properties remain confidential.
The original planning application was rejected and Mr Bland went to appeal. The appeal was also rejected, unfortunately Mr Bland believed planning was a formality and gutted the building as part of his conversion plans, the Inspector’s conclusion …
22. I have taken into account all other matters raised including the concern that the site could become derelict if a use is not found. Those matters do not alter my conclusions on the main issue.
23. For the reasons given I conclude that the appeal should be dismissed.
… The property was later put back on the market with an asking price (after reduction) of £250k. This is an excessive price some £100k above the professional valuation (red book) given by Sidney Phillips (Chartered Surveyors and Registered Valuers). Whilst Mr Bland is entitled to place any value he likes on a property he owns we have been informed that this practice is not unusual by developers hoping to re-apply for change of use at a later date. Change of use is required to convert a public house into a residential property, the attraction of such developments is extremely high profits as public houses, such as the Plough, leap in value as housing.
This practice of converting public houses into residential properties has now been recognised as a major issue in rural areas. The National Planning Policy Framework (pages 9 and 17) states that such assets should be protected from redevelopment. In fact the Inspector also pointed out (at appeal) that …
“Saved policy CF2 of the East Lindsey Local Plan Alteration (LP) (1999) also restricts the loss of community or social facilities unless they have been shown to be not necessary or viable in the long term.”
The Plough was viable as a public house and will be again, Sidney Phillips expect a turnover of £200k just as a public house without any of the plans our community has for the future of this pub.
A lot of work has been completed by a small band of dedicated people over the last couple of years in preparation to raise funds to purchase the Plough for the benefit of those people that live here now and in the future. We also intend it to be an asset for the wider community. It will be run as a business where surplus funds are returned to the community. A professionally run (tenanted) bar serving quality local beers and food. Good coffee and cakes, fill-in shop selling essentials and a function room for hire with a programme of regular events such as film nights, music, plays and whatever YOU want to see happening there. As a share holder you get to vote, you can join the committee to secure the Plough’s future, once bought the sky is the limit.
The Pioneer Trip was an excellent experience and the three pubs visited all had a different story to tell. All three were run as either tenanted or managed on the licenced side of the operation and all three would have loved to have a function room the size of the restaurant in the Plough. Two had almost outgrown their properties in the year or so of operation. The George & Dragon in Hudswell is in a linear village not unlike ours and also without a shop. The shop within the pub returns a small profit as a fill-in (milk, bread and the like) and is manned by volunteers.
Since they re-opened their defunct pub their homes have risen in value by 10-15% and local bed & breakfast operators have seen a large increase in business. The local estate agents now use the fact that the pub is community owned as an aid to selling homes and there is a scheme to include shares with the sale of residential properties within Hudswell. The government recognise the benefits of schemes such as these and there are considerable tax advantages to investment in community enterprises. What’s not to like in a project that will deliver so much more than just a pub for us all to enjoy?
Below is a series (5) of Community Shares projects, they are all worth watching but the first explains the philosophy of Community Shares and, if you watch any, please watch the first one. For those that don’t know, clicking on the icon to the left of 1/5 allows you to play in any order you choose.