Campaigners bidding for right to buy pub

SAVE OUR PUB: From left, Ryan Fance, Tim Fance, Joe Hill and Gavin Fance outside The Highbury Barn in Great Cornard.
SAVE OUR PUB: From left, Ryan Fance, Tim Fance, Joe Hill and Gavin Fance outside The Highbury Barn in Great Cornard.

Hopes of bringing a former village pub back to life could resurface if efforts to list the building as a community asset are successful.

Campaigners are attempting to have The Highbury Barn pub in Canhams Road, Great Cornard, registered as an asset of community value.

This would give those keen to see the pub reopen the opportunity to bid to buy the property.

“We recently applied for the pub to be registered and will find out the outcome at the end of the month,” said former regular Gavin Fance.

“This is a new act and it gives communities the right to buy things, like The Highbury Barn, and save them.”

Babergh District Council is due to rule on whether the pub, which closed more than a year ago, should be registered on January 31.

If deemed an asset of community value, campaigners will be given six months to come up with an offer to buy the pub, which is owned by Punch Taverns, should it go up for sale.

“It is 50/50 as to whether the council will go in our favour,” said Mr Fance, who lives in Sycamore Road.

“We have 30 people who have signed up to have the building registered and we have to show that it has been important to the community in the past.”

A number of residents are eager for the 18th-century building to return to use as a public house, but face opposition from Punch Taverns, which wants to create a supermarket on the site.

The company was refused permission to demolish the pub and build a £1million retail unit at the end of 2012. A subsequent appeal was turned down in June.

Mr Fance, who collected 300 signatures as part of a Save the Barn campaign opposing the redevelopment, said he still believed the pub had a place in the village.

“Punch has not made any progress on a new application and has not advertised any changes,” he said.

“We want to see if we can come to an agreement to save the building and get it reopened.”

Mr Fance said that the pub’s owners had recently received an offer of £300,000 for the building, but were believed to be holding out for closer to £500,000.

Despite this, he said he was confident campaigners would be able to raise funds if given the chance.

“It depends on how open Punch is to reasonable offers, but you never know,” he said.

“We want to retain the building in the community and it would be fairly feasible to come up with the cash as we have plenty of people supporting us.”

A spokeswoman for Punch Taverns said the company was still committed to trying to secure permission to turn the building into a retail unit.

“We have submitted a planning application for the change of use and we are awaiting the outcome,” she said.