With the help of the More than a Pub programme, a £3.6m scheme jointly funded by the Department for Communities & Local Government and charitable trusts Power to Change, the Auctioneers Arms in Caverswall will reopen having initially closed its doors in August 2016.
The pub had been sold to a property developer who had planned to build houses on the site. Upon hearing the news, locals formed a working committee to investigate the prospect of community purchase and registered the pub as an Asset of Community Value (ACV).
Since then, The Caverswall Community Society, a community benefit society established by local residents, raised more than £200,000 via a community share offer with more than 130 people investing between £250 and £6,000 to become shareholders, society members and owners of the pub.
Brian Griffiths, a leading member of the Caverswall Community Society, commented: “The Auctioneers Arms has been in our village for over 150 years and local residents were determined to save it despite it being sold to a property developer. The past 16 months has been extremely hard, but we have had some fantastic support from members of the local community as well as others further afield.
"The purchase was eventually completed on 5 January 2018, The Auctioneers Arms is now a community pub, owned by the community for the community. We intend to open the doors in spring following the initial refurbishment.”
During the 16-month campaign, the group received advice on community engagement and setting up a co-operative as well as a £50,000 grant and £50,000 loan from the More Than A Pub business support programme – a two-year project delivered by the Plunkett Foundation formulated to help support community ownership of British pubs.
'Amazing community spirit'
Nicole Hamilton, head of frontline at the Plunkett Foundation, commented: “We are delighted to have supported this group to acquire their local pub through the programme and enable them to provide innovative and sustainable solutions to meet the needs currently being faced by their local community.”
Caverswell locals now have ambitious plans to develop the Auctioneers Arms into the fulcrum of their community, hosting facilities such as a tea room, coffee shop, a parcel drop-off and pick-up station, and an emergency defibrillator point.
Jenny Sansom, from Power To Change, said: “There is amazing community spirit on display here. By making sure pubs host groups and charitable events, people are keeping their local pub open and offering much more than a good pint.”