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.
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.”