Community suggestion for village pub

PUBLISHED: 09:30 15 September 2011

The Plough at Shepreth.

The Plough at Shepreth.

Daniel Wilson

A VACANT pub villagers fought to save from developers could become the first community owned alehouse in the South East.

The Plough in Shepreth was under threat of being converted into a five-bedroom house but dedicated campaigners battled to save it from re-development.

South Cambs District Council blocked the application and now villagers are considering the possibility of running the pub as a co-operative, if no one comes forward to run it commercially.

The idea was floated at two packed meetings this week – with interest so high it was standing room only.

Sheila and David Elliott presented their brainchild, which may see The Plough also used as a post office, shop and restaurant, helping to alleviate the village’s lack of amenities.

Mrs Elliott said: “We all use our cars when we go anywhere. We don’t actually stop and talk to each other – we are all in our little boxes so we’re not really a happy community.

“This will make us a happy community – this is a good start.”

The couple have been in conversation with the Plunkett Foundation, a charity which aids setting up and running community-owned businesses.

If the plans come to fruition residents and those associated with Shepreth would buy shares in the pub and a co-operative committee would oversee the running of the business.

However, the project would be dependent on securing a number of grants and donations to purchase and improve the pub, which is valued in excess of £500,000 and needs roughly £100,000 worth of improvements.

Mr Elliott said: “We would be quite happy if someone came in with a bid for the pub. I would like someone to take it and give it a good go.

“We feel this is a fall-back option we can go for and it might work.”

Despite the fact pubs are struggling in the current economic climate, Mrs Elliott, of Frog End, believes a community venture could weather the storm.

She said: “Because it would be a community pub you’re more likely to use it if you have a stake in it.

“If you know what the alternative is, that it could go back up for sale, you’re more likely to use it – it’s the responsibility of the village.”

Although SCDC blocked MPM Properties’ proposal, stating it would result in the loss of a village service which was economically viable, an appeal can still be lodged by developers for a number of months.

Parish council chairman Jenny Ravenhill was uncertain of the community pub plan’s viability, but welcomed villagers’ interest in resurrecting The Plough.

She said: “I support the move for us to get it back as a pub, the village desperately needs a pub – it needs a community hub.

“Running it as a community pub as a plan B if we can’t get it commercially would be fine, but it does need to be a plan B.”

She added that if there was any uncertainty in the village over the commercial viability of the pub, developers might continue with their plan.

Most Read

Latest from the Royston Crow

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists