Operators forced to sell pub after claims of ‘hostile social media campaign’

By Stuart Stone contact

- Last updated on GMT

Hounded: pub operators Jacqueline Harding and Steve Allely say they have been forced to sell the Fox & Hounds
Hounded: pub operators Jacqueline Harding and Steve Allely say they have been forced to sell the Fox & Hounds
The owners of the Fox & Hounds in Great Wolford, Warwickshire, have put their pub on the market after claiming they have been targets of 'local opposition'.

Jacqueline Harding and Steve Allely bought the Grade II-listed pub – which dates back to the 1540s – in 2015, spending £40,000 transforming the site.

However, following a social media campaign, and after withdrawing a planning application to convert the pub into two residential properties, the pair have called in Colliers International to sell the property.

Peter Brunt, a director of Colliers hotels team who described the case as one of the most unusual he'd come across, said: “I had sold the pub to the current owners in 2015 but for whatever reason Jackie and Steve’s refurbishment did not sit well with some of the locals who began a hostile social media campaign calling on people to boycott the business.

“This has hamstrung Jackie and Steve’s attempts to turn the business around and they have been forced, reluctantly, to place this genuinely delightful pub on the market with offers invited in the region of £550,000.” 

Foodie haven

Brunt added: “The inn is presently closed but could be a real foodie haven.

“It has been at the heart of the village since 1540 and lies at the centre of a network of ancient footpaths and bridleways, which makes it particularly attractive for walkers.

“It now has an asset of community value (ACV) notification registered on it.

“The Fox & Hounds is everything you would hope to find in a pretty Cotswold village.”

According to community website ‘Rescue the Fox & Hounds Great Wolford’: “The pub has been immensely popular and successful in the past but it was bought in May 2015 by Steve Allely and Jackie Harding.”

The website claims that while the village supported the operators initially, the pub closed less than a year after opening, with the operators citing “local opposition”.

The operators had submitted a planning application to Stratford-upon-Avon district council in July to change the use of the pub to two dwellings, however the application was withdrawn in October with Harding and Allely now looking to sell.

Character ripped out

Speaking to The Daily Mail​, computer programmer and Great Wolford resident Charles Pearmain said: “It was sold at a relatively cheap price and this couple bought it, I suspect, thinking they would make their fortunes.

“They also run a café in nearby Bourton-on-the-Water but you simply cannot run a pub as a hobby.

“It was a destination pub and the historic bar and interior was its centrepiece.

“In the summer it was heaving and during the winter months locals enjoyed a pint and a wonderful meal.

“They came in, ripped out the interior and replaced it with Ikea-style pine furniture. They were going for a sports bar feel and it simply didn't work.

“The pub's opening times were irregular and they didn't seem to care.

“They basically thought that they would make money either by running the pub or they would sell it off as houses but they didn't realise it's not as easy as that.

“Our hope is that someone who wants to run the pub, as a pub, now buys it but sadly it will never quite be the same because it's original character was ripped out.”

Related topics: Property law

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