Newsletter No 2 - April 2011

Today, 12th April, 2011, is a red letter day in our campaign to purchase and re-open the Foresters Arms for two good reasons;

Firstly, in the four weeks that we have been campaigning, through your generosity, we have received pledges to the sum of £157,500, which is a fantastic start. The management committee wish to thank everyone that has shown an interest and got behind our community project with so much generosity. We cannot thank you enough as this has proved that there is the will within our community to make this idea happen and it reinforces the management committee’s raison d’etre to carry on with the campaign.

Secondly, today was an important milestone in terms of the planning application to split the building and change its use. If we are to develop a viable pub business we believe that it is important that the building remains in its current formation, having a kitchen, restaurant, letting rooms and upstairs accommodation. Although previously the first steps had been passed by the planning authority to approve the planning application, as the circumstances of the owners had changed resulting in the pub closing, then we had made a strong case, supported by a number of key planning authority members to overturn this decision. Today was the final meeting of the planning authority where a decision was made. Fifteen of the committee members and interested members of the public attended the meeting where an appointed representative, Peter Pearson, addressed the planning committee on our behalf.

All of the planning officers that then spoke in the ensuing debate commented on how impressed they were by the amount of pledges that we had received and the obvious strength of feeling and commitment that the residents of Coverdale are putting behind this project. Comments were made that as the original circumstances in which the planning officers had supported the planning application had changed they felt able to re-consider their original views. Recent reports in the media have reinforced the fact that rural pubs without restaurant facilities are no longer economically viable and this together with all of the other facts and views put in front of the committee led them to vote to turn down the planning application, 11 votes in favour of saying NO, no votes against and 4 abstentions.

This is fantastic news for our project meaning that we have overcome our first major hurdle. The pub can no longer be split up into separate buildings. The amount of support that was demonstrated by the entire community of Coverdale in writing to the planning authority and making our views known and showing support for the community project had a massive influence on the planning authority’s decision. Once again, a big thank you to anyone who took the time to write to the authority expressing your views.

So what is next? - We are by no means resting on our laurels, there is a lot of work to do and the management committee are working hard to make sure that we have everything in place to enable us to purchase the pub. The application to form the Co-operative Society is now well underway and the process should be complete within 6-8 weeks. This will then allow us to complete the application process with a number of organisations from whom we are seeking grant aid.

Until now only half of the building has been marketed for sale, however, now that we know that the pub building is to remain as one we have placed an offer with the vendor to purchase it as a whole. We are now waiting to see whether or not our offer has been accepted. As you will appreciate we expect to be in negotiation about our offer and therefore we are not making the size of the offer known publicly.
What we can say, however, is that our half full beer glass still needs topping up to the point where we can put a head on it. From estimates we have made on buying the pub and importantly refurbishing it we believe that we may need to raise a total in excess of £300,000.

The great news is that we are half way there, but we need to double what we have and do it quickly if we are to be in a position to close out on any purchase deal. The committee have lots of ideas of how we are going to let a wider audience of people know about the project. To begin with over the Easter weekend you will see us handing out information leaflets at both the Middleham stables and the Leyburn food and drink events.

Our website is up and running so that people can see what we are doing and we would like to ask, if possible, for your further support. If there are any members of your extended family or friends who might be interested in investing in our scheme or if you yourself would like to increase your pledge then please pass this information on and get them to submit a pledge form.

Completed pledge forms can be returned to any one of the following:
Raymond Brown - Brooklyn House, Carlton, Peter Dinsdale – Gable End, Carlton
Kevin Utley – Dambreezy, West Scrafton, Tony Jones – Hillside Farm, Melmerby
Peter Pearson - Lane Farm House, East Scrafton

Alternatively anyone interested in becoming involved can fill in a pledge form on our website, which also has lots of information about the project.

Thanks again for all of your help so far and for any further support that you can give us. Today, we have taken a significant step forward and if we can continue to gain support we could all soon be owning a share in the Coverdale Community Pub.

Many Thanks
Coverdale Community Pub
Management Committee