Community pub to open with a bang for Bonfire Night

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FOLLOWING years of campaigning and fundraising the community now officially owns the Fox & Hounds pub.

Rob Stark and three other directors of what is now a community co-operative have signed on the dotted line to take ownership.

Mr Stark led the campaign to save the pub after developers attempted to bulldoze it and build four luxury homes on the School Lane site in Denmead.

Following the huge community effort the cash was raised through donations, investments, loans and grants to save the pub and builders should be moving on to the site next week.

A bar from an old pub will be refurbished and installed and a new kitchen fitted.

Tenants and a head chef has been appointed.

Mr Stark, who lives yards from the pub, said: ‘We have raised just on £300,000 from mainly locals which is in the bank.

‘The remaining £150,000 will be made up of commercial lending and we hope a grant from Solent Enterprise Partnership.

‘I’ve just returned from a meeting with the new tenants who used to run the White Hart in South Harting and still own a bar in Petersfield called The Eden Bar.

‘Their son Damion used to be head chef at the Hurdles and is locally known and well respected.

Damion and his partner Jess run a pub restaurant in Gloucestershire and between them all they intend to make the Fox & Hounds one of the best country pubs for food and ale in the area.

Mr Stark added: ‘We have instructed building works to commence next week.

‘However, it may take longer than we first envisaged as the building industry is flat out at present and both labour and materials are on longer lead times. But, as long as we don’t hit any unforeseen problems we hope to be open sometime in October in time for the famous Bonfire Night party for which the Fox & Hounds is famous in the area.’

More than 30 volunteers turned out last weekend for a huge clear-up operation.

They helped weed the car park and patio and remove the last bits of fence and hedge in the lane.

There is still time to invest in the pub.

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