Village pubs could be protected from axe by use of council powers

UNDER THREAT But new legislation could help save the Fox & Hounds
UNDER THREAT But new legislation could help save the Fox & Hounds
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NEW powers may be used to save an historic pub from being bulldozed and turned into luxury housing.

And the move to save The Fox & Hounds, in Denmead, could also lead to other pubs in the village being protected from developers.

The pub in School Lane has been at the centre of a campaign by villagers to save it from demolition since last orders were called at Easter.

Plans to turn it into two four-bedroom houses with garages were turned down by Winchester City Council in May because the owners had not done enough to try and sell it as a going concern.

Now Denmead Parish Council has voted to recommend the building be put on the city council’s Community Asset List which comes into force in October under the government’s Localism Act.

The list protects important amenity buildings like pubs, libraries and community centres from being demolished until local people have first been given the opportunity to buy it.

If Winchester council agrees to put it on the list the developer, Bensam Homes, must give campaigners six weeks to decide if they want to buy it.

The period begins from the time the owner notifies the local authority that it wants to sell.

If in that six weeks the community agrees it wants to make a bid it then has six months to put a proposal together and raise the capital needed.

If the cash can’t be found then the property can go on the open market.

Rob Stark is one of the campaigners hoping to save the pub. He said: ‘First and foremost we want to protect the building. If we can reinstate the pub by getting someone to buy it that would be great.

‘It’s another step forward although the developers are used to playing long waiting games and no-one can force them to sell the pub.’

The pub is around 120 years old and many of the punters now trying to save it had used it for decades.

Parish councillor Karen Forster voted at last week’s parish full council meeting to protect the pub.

She also backs an idea put forward by Councillor Kevin Andreoli to put all the pubs in Denmead on the asset list.

She said: ‘I feel strongly that the Fox & Hounds is an asset to the village and as a pub it was on it’s own in that corner of the village providing entertainment. It’s very much a landmark building.

‘Pubs are a very important part of village life where people eat and socialise. We have five pubs in the village and most are in walking distance and we need to protect them.’

Eleanor Davies, a spokeswoman for Winchester City Council said a decision could not be made until the Localism Act comes into force next month.

A spokesman for Bensam Homes said the company did not want to comment.