As reported by The Morning Advertiser, residents of the Hanover area of Brighton launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £300,000 in order to take over the Greys pub after it was put on the market by Ei Group.
Keith Farmer of the Save the Greys campaign explained: "There was a very real danger of the pub becoming flats or houses. Ei has sold three other pubs in the immediate vicinity, just a few minutes' walk away, in the past few years, two of which are now houses and one of which was saved by a really last-minute ACV (asset of community value) status that was taken out.
"There are really highly valued houses around Hanover. Even though it's all terraced streets, it's got a really good reputation. It's £500,000 for a terraced house – you can see why there'd be quite a lot of interest from developers.
"We could see what was going to happen. There was no doubt in our minds, so we made a big stink. We reckon we probably communicated our messages in one way or another to about 1m people, we really went to town.
"There was only one way we could keep developers away and that was to let them know they'd have a fight on their hands."
The Save the Greys campaign – which won the support of the MP for Brighton Pavilion and co-leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas – raised £186,000 and hoped to make up the remaining money using loans.
Farmer explained that the campaign also won the support of the pub company looking to sell the Greys.
"Ei actually bent over backwards to try and sell us the pub. We were the lower bidder in the end, but they were trying to sell to us – which was unheard of.
"Unfortunately, by that point they'd put the pub into an auction and couldn't get it out due to auction contracts.
"They tried to put us through this auction contract process, which is simply is not geared to a community organisation; you can't risk other people's money in the same way that if you were an entrepreneur – it's not the same dynamic at all.
“That's where we fell over, we couldn't go through the process."
New landlords 'just the job'
Despite this, the very fact that the Greys will continue to trade as a pub constitutes a triumph as far as Farmer is concerned.
"We consider it a success, we saved the Greys. So many property developers came along to the open days, all of whom we spoke to, all of whom went away realising they'd have a fight on their hands if they tried to develop the property."
The new owners are said to be keen to talk to the campaign group and having exchanged emails with members are planning to meet the Save the Greys campaigners before the pub opens.
"They have one pub in Northampton, which is also a back-street terraced houses' job, they know exactly the sort of place they're getting. They have craft beer, Belgian beer, live music and a good food offering – the sort of things we wanted.
“They sound just the job, they know about community pubs. We've got smiles on our faces."