A community group is preparing for an immense fundraising push after learning it will have little more than a month to raise hundreds of thousands to save their pub.
Campaigners fighting to keep The Crown in South Moreton are in the process of creating a business so funds can be raised to save their favourite drinking house.
But the South Moreton Community Benefit Society isn’t likely to be established until the end of next month, or the start of March, meaning Save the Crown Pub group is running out of time to raise the necessary cash.
The pub was listed for sale by its property developer owners in October and because it is an ‘asset of community value’, a moratorium period was triggered.
This has given the campaign group six months – or until April 6 – to raise £500,000 (including renovations) from loans, grants and community donations and to
submit a business case.
But it is a race against time as the money can only be raised providing the society is established, realistically allowing four to six weeks of fundraising.
Parish councillor Tristram Kendall, who lives near the pub, said a few prospective tenants have already declared interest in running a re-opened pub.
He said the closure of the pub in July 2015 was a great disappointment for the village, adding: “It was our last meeting point and, when I moved to the village, I got to know the village and people through the pub.
“But now you don’t see people, people don’t get out and we just don’t mix as a community as we used to. It’s a real shame.”
The Crown closed when brewers Wadworth, the then owners, sold the land to Worthmore Properties Ltd, which wanted to turn the site into three houses, for £340,000.
Now, campaigners want to know whether the community is willing to make a financial contribution to help save the pub and are hosting a public meeting on Saturday for a discussion.
Mr Kendall added that he is “baffled” by Worthmore’s true motivation, adding: “[We don’t know] whether they are just relying on our offer or whether they’re just doing it to have a dig at us.”
Saturday’s meeting at Hall Farm will include a licensed bar open from 7.30pm, with a presentation and questions at 8pm followed by a pig roast.
Worthmore could not be reached for comment.