Licensee fears pub sold to developer despite legal protection

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Property

Licensee Bill Light and Plymouth councillor Steven Ricketts outside the Friendship Inn
Licensee Bill Light and Plymouth councillor Steven Ricketts outside the Friendship Inn
A Devon licensee, who has been evicted from his ACV-listed pub after 18 years at the helm, said he fears his home has been sold to a developer — without the local community being given a chance to buy it.

The Friendship Inn was listed as Plymouth’s first asset of community value pub in February 2013, following a campaign from local residents after the pub’s owner Pubfolio went into administration in 2009.

This legal protection means the property owner must notify the local authority when it is intending to sell the asset, to allow the community six months to raise the funds to purchase it.

However, the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​ understands the property is in the process of being sold to a developer who plans to turn it into student flats.

Following concerns from licensee Bill Light, who was evicted from the pub earlier this month after refusing to leave, Plymouth City Council’s legal team have now written a letter, seen by the PMA​, to the pubco. It outlines the law regarding the sale of an ACV-listed property and warns that “non-compliant sales” will be void, meaning any change of ownership has not taken place.

“Under the provisions of section 95 of the Localism Act 2011 if an owner decides to dispose of an asset (and no exemption applies) the owner must notify the local authority,” the letter states.

“To date I have not received a formal notification that the premises are being disposed of,” it adds.

'Legal requirement'

Light said: “It’s a legal requirement, but they seem to have railroaded it. They have to give the community the chance to purchase this property.”

Plymouth councillor Steven Ricketts, who helped campaign for the pub to be listed, said a similar situation occurred last year with another ACV-listed pub nearby, which re-opened six weeks ago, and he is hoping he can also save this one.

“I will fight tooth and nail to make sure it remains as a pub,” he told the PMA​.

A spokesman from Christie + Co, which is handling the sale of the pub on behalf of administrators PriceWaterhouseCoopers, said: “We have a buyer lined up for it, who was lined up prior to the pub being listed.”

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Posted by Mick,

I suggest councillor Ricketts should put his money and time where his mouth is and buy it himself. Its so easy to sit on the fence and complain about a pub that might shut you might want to use one day. Clearly locals did not use it enough.
Pubs are not government funded services like your library or swimming pool etc, they are businesses that have to make money to survive.
Maybe you should blame present and past governments for pub closures after all an off licence was the only place you could buy a drink other than pubs a few years ago. These days with every supermarket competing to sell cheap boose to unsupervised drinkers what the hell did people expect.....
Rant over

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ACV protection void in face of administration

Posted by Dale Ingram,

Firstly, Assets sold as a consequence of the owner going into administration, known as an 'exempt' disposals, are immune to ACV protection. However, I expect the borough solicitor considered this before writing to the seller. Any non-compliant sale can be unwound by the Land Registry. Secondly, and quite separately, the fact that the pub is a registered ACV can be grounds for refusal of a planning application for conversion to non-pub uses. Any buyer of a pub ought to do their due diligence, including planning clarity, before purchase. The local community will no doubt raise this when the planning application lands- or, ideally, immediately- with the planners and their local councillors.

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