A LAST-ditch campaign has been launched to save one of Havant’s oldest pubs.
The White Hart pub is set to close on Sunday after 125 years in order to make way for a bingo hall and adult gaming centre.
But Havant Civic Society and Tim Dawes, from Havant Music Club, are determined to keep the building as a traditional drinking hole offering live music. Campaigners have fresh hope of saving the pub because local historians were successful in getting the building listed by English Heritage.
It means developers now need listed building consent to make any internal or external alterations.
A meeting was held yesterday to thrash out a way forward and the civic society intends to write to Havant Borough Council.
One of its priorities is a proper public debate about any potential changes because planning permission for the bingo hall was decided by officers, instead of being discussed by councillors at a planning committee.
Civic society chairman Bill Woods said: ‘It has established itself as a music venue for young people which has given it a new lease of life.’
Mr Dawes said the pub is the last venue for live music in Havant and was heaving earlier this year for a ‘Battle of the Bands’ concert. He plans on getting the pub listed as a community asset – a new government-backed scheme.
If the White Hart was listed as a community asset and ever came up for the sale, the community would have six months to put a bid together.
Mr Dawes said: ‘If that were to happen for the White Hart, there’s a significant possibility we could purchase it.’
The owner, Simon Reeves, said he was not intending to sell up and was still planning to create the bingo hall.
He said: ‘We have somebody who’s going to open it and pay the rent. It’s breathing fresh air into the place. It’s still got a bar. I have had two tenants in there and both have failed.’
St Faith’s Cllr Jackie Branson said the building could make a great restaurant with investment.
Speaking about the listing of the building, council spokeswoman Sally Foster said: ‘It means any works to alter, extend or demolish the building are now subject to a separate consent regime, known as listed building consent. As distinct from planning permission, the controls extend to internal as well as external alterations.’