SUPPORTERS who have been trying to save an historic pub are claiming victory after the council agreed to protect it by putting it on a community asset register.
It means the owners of 120-year-old Fox & Hounds pub in School Lane, Denmead, cannot sell it for six months so the community has time to find the money to buy it – or someone willing to take it on as a going concern.
The move is in line with the aims of The News Love Your Local campaign, set up to support and protect community pubs.
Like every local authority, Winchester City Council now has the power to register a building as a community asset under the new Localism Act. It rejected the Fox & Hounds earlier this year because there was not enough evidence. But that has changed.
Head of policy at the council Antonia Perkins said: ‘Denmead Parish Council has now come back to us with a lot more evidence, particularly on the viability side.
‘I’ve had lots of emails from residents who used the pub for many years and held groups there. And I’ve also got information from a local businessman who is interested in running it as a pub and sees it as a viable commercial venture.’
Once the six months are up, the owners do not have to sell it to the community but if they want to turn it into housing they must get through planning.
Buildings such as pubs or community centres already have a lot of protection at local level.
The council turned down plans to bulldoze the building and build two four-bedroom houses.
The last pint was served in the pub last Easter.
Rob Stark is one of the residents behind the campaign.
He said: ‘What I do believe is that because it is now recognised as a community asset, getting planning permission to knock it down should prove to be impossible.’
Owners Liberty Leasing and agent Savilles did not respond to calls.