CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save Bromsgrove’s Greyhound pub enjoyed a bitter-sweet victory last Wednesday (November 2).
The pub was listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) by Bromsgrove District Council’s cabinet but the owners of the building which want to bulldoze it in favour of a new traffic junction have said they have no intention of selling it to the community.
The ACV should mean campaigners have six months to purchase the property for its market value but it is feared the owner’s move could put paid to their plans.
Greyhound Inn Developments Ltd, launched on July 28 of this year, is part of Catesby Property Developers – the company which had its proposal, with Miller Homes, to build 490 properties on Whitford Road refused. An appeal against the decision was then thrown out following a judicial review.
The ACV came after a campaign led by the Bromsgrove and Redditch branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).
The decision was deferred in October, putting the demolition of the pub on hold, and the ACV was unanimously granted by the cabinet last week.
The situation highlighting the company’s position was made clear in a letter from Evershed Solicitors which claimed the current value of the property far exceeded that of a typical public house within the local market.
It added any funds raised by the community would be ‘insufficient in comparison to the property’s established development’ and ‘it would not be commercial or realistic to sell it.’
Catesby’s planning director David Morris said the company would be submitting a planning application to demolish the pub and replace it with a traffic junction.
“It is a requirement in the Infrastructure Delivery Plan and is a requirement of the Whitford site coming forward.
“In any planning application there are pluses and minuses and within that, the ACV gets put into the planning balance, so in effect, the demolition would form part of the planning application.”
Mr Morris said he would not comment on how much was paid to purchase the pub.
On the ACV he said: “Clearly there is an element of controversy there, so from that point of view, the opposition have made their feelings known, and we will continue to talk to them over the coming weeks.”
Coun Luke Mallett who has campaigned with residents to save the pub, hit back.
“This seems to be a game of smoke and mirrors – they need to be transparent about what they paid for the pub and what the value of it is as a public house.
“At the end of the day, for them to say it could now be worth more because it could be a road junction in the future is ridiculous.”
The pub is registered as an ACV so they should be obliged to sell it at what it’s worth and declare what they paid for it – but they won’t allow it to be used as an ACV, so their position lacks integrity.”
CAMRA spokesperson Tom Stainer said while ACV status ‘automatically granted pubs additional protection – meaning they could not be demolished or converted without the say of the local people who nominated it – 21 pubs still continued to close every single week and it was still clear pubs needed permanent legislation to protect them’.
A similar situation saw The Anglers Rest become the first community pub in Derbyshire when it was collectively purchased by more than 300 people, despite the pub company which owned it initially refusing to sell.
The Standard approached Communities Secretary and Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid who said he was ‘keen to see if more could be done’ to help local pubs like the Greyhound, which continued to be under threat of demolition despite its ACV status.