Locals save Drovers Inn from development

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Local residents are looking to purchase the Drovers Inn
Local residents are looking to purchase the Drovers Inn

Related tags Dorset

The Drovers Inn in Wimborne, Dorset, has been saved from development after local residents and the Parish Council strongly objected to the loss of an important village asset.

An application was made for the premises at Gussage All Saints to be granted a change of use from a pub to residential accommodation. It was rejected by East Dorset District Council Planning Committee at a hearing on 23 June.

The pub - a former Marston’s tenancy - was given the top accolade as Dorset Country Pub of the Year in 2006. It was successfully listed as an Asset of Community Value in February 2015.

Currently, the premises is owned by Marston’s but is under unconditional contract to be sold by September. However, the details of the purchaser are currently unavailable.

David Morgan of Morgan & Clarke Chartered Surveyors was commissioned by local residents group ‘Save the Drovers’ to prepare an independent viability study. It concluded that as a freehouse with a rolling three-year tenancy on an affordable rent, the pub was viable rather than a prospect for development.

Morgan said: “The reports commissioned by the council took the view of a continued use as a tied lease, which ignored a freehouse tenancy at a sensible rent.”

Share offer

In a recommendation to the planning committee, the Parish Council accused the consultants’ reports of manipulating the figures and in “taking every opportunity to diminish the future viability of the pub.”

The Save the Drovers Action Group​ launched a community share offer earlier this year which so far has raised £125,000, in addition to loans to raise the funds to buy the pub.

Mal Madell, who heads up the action group, said they were pleased with the ruling and are ready to purchase the premises. “We have been fighting since December for the pub. We are ready to move ahead at short notice,” she said.

The group has had a valuation which indicates the pub is worth £350,000.

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