Carol Thornton, who owns the freehold of the Three Horseshoes in Letchmore Heath, told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser she is “outraged” that the local community — which does not generally use the pub — has the right to “interfere” in the running and future of her business, which she believes is no longer viable unless it receives a heavy investment or is converted to another use.
The pub was ACV listed in May last year, which means the local council has greater ability to refuse planning applications from developers and village residents are given six months to raise finance before the pub can be put on the open market. An ACV listing lasts for five years.
Thornton said that the policy has delayed her being able to sell the property, put off potential buyers who might want to alter the property and unfairly gives locals the ability to try to “secure the pub very cheaply for their own interests”.
In an attempt to rescue the business, Thornton took the pub off the market and put forward a bid to build a house in part of the pub’s garden — which she says does not generate enough trade — with a view to selling the residential property and using the money to invest in the pub.
Hertsmere Borough Council, however, rejected the planning application for housing last month.
'We want it de-listed'
“It doesn’t seem fair that we have bought the freehold, and now can’t do anything with the pub for five years,” Thornton said.
“We want it de-listed as an ACV. Locals haven’t raised funds or generated enough interest, it takes away from the value of what someone could do with the pub and it’s blighted our ability to sell. Potential buyers want to know they can change it and use it how they want.”
Emily Ryans, Campaign for Real Ale campaigns manager, said: “Nominating a pub as an asset of community value doesn’t stop a pub owner from selling — it just gives the local community a say that is all too often lacking when a pub is threatened with closure.
“If the local community hasn’t raised the funds to buy the pub during the moratorium period then there is nothing to stop the owner from selling their pub in the usual way.”
Last month pub property agents criticised the procedure of listing pubs as assets of community value, saying the process was “long”, “unwieldy” and compromises the value of a property, even if the community doesn’t end up buying it.