Acouncil has played its part, now it’s up to the community to put its money where its mouth is.
Top marks to Winchester City Council for doing what The News has campaigned long and hard for – taking action to try to preserve a vital part of our heritage, the pub.
In this case it’s the 120-year-old Fox & Hounds at Denmead.
Our Love Your Local crusade is not just about celebrating all that is good about your local pub, but also trying to ensure they remain part of the fabric of society and not turned into yet another housing development.
Part of our campaign has focused on persuading local authorities to put much-loved hostelries on their community asset register.
This is exactly what Winchester did and it has given Denmead people a six-month breathing space to save the building which closed last Easter. It’s all thanks to the Localism Act.
Winchester had already turned down plans to bulldoze the old pub in a scheme which would have seen two four-bedroomed houses built on the site.
However, it had also turned down a bid by villagers to place the Fox & Hounds on the asset register because local people had not explained clearly enough why it was so special.
Denmead Parish Council has now done just that and the troops have been rallied.
Antonia Perkins, the council’s head of policy, says: ‘I’ve had lots of e-mails 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.’
All good so far. But six months is not long. And that is our beef.
While welcoming the legislation, surely nine months would have been a more realistic target for communities to get their act together?
It would give them time to come up with a watertight, viable business plan to ensure the pub remains the focal point of its particular community.
It’s vital if yet another pub is not to have time called on it.