Simon Reed, who ran The Pheasant at Lindley Brook, Bridgnorth in Shropshire for more than 30 years with his wife Elizabeth before dwindling trade forced them to close in 2012, described the measure as a ‘totally unnecessary intrusion’ and a ‘stick with which anybody who has a grudge can use, even if they have no serious intention of putting a bid in’.
The owners put The Pheasant, which is on a small country lane, up for sale in 2007.
In April 2013 a group of local residents wrote to Shropshire Council nominating the pub as an ACV - a measure which gives the council greater ability to refuse planning applications from developers and the community up to six months to put in a bid to buy a pub - and The Pheasant was listed in June 2013.
“Suddenly this bit of legislation pops up and we were nominated by a group of people who were opposed to the change of use application that we made,” Reed said. “Six months have passed and no bids have been made. We feel it has put a blight on our property for five years, people aren’t keen on buying pubs that have been on the list and in a way we feel trapped. We feel this pub is completely non-viable and the fact nobody is interested in buying it proves it…We’ve been here for 30 years, we’ve effectively retired.”
The Reeds appealed to the General Regulatory Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal, arguing that section 88 (2) (b) of the Localism Act 2011 was not satisfied. The section suggests that the asset should not be included on the council’s list unless “it is realistic to think that there is a time in the next five years when there could be non-ancillary use of the building or other land that would further (whether or not in the same way as before) the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community.”
The appeal was refused by Judge Nicholas Warren, who said he gave ‘full weight’ to the owners’ comments but added: “Despite the general decline in the pub trade and the individual difficulties which The Pheasant faces, it remains realistic, in my view, to think that there is a time in the next five years when the use to which it has been put for over a hundred years might resume.”