Community Pub Ownership

If you list a pub as an ‘Asset of Community Value' (ACV) with your local Council, you not only protect it in planning law but you also have the opportunity to bid to buy the pub as a community.

There is no obligation to take over the management of a pub if you list it as an ACV, but recent years have seen a big increase in community-owned pubs with around 70 currently operating in the UK.

Community ownership gives you the opportunity to work at a grassroots level and provide a facility in your community that reflects the wants and needs of your local area; protecting valued assets for generations to come.

If your pub is up for sale and community ownership could be a viable option for your local area, then here are some tips for getting started. 

The Process

If an ACV listed pub comes up for sale, an initial 6 week moratorium period is triggered. If within those 6 weeks you decide that the community could raise the funds to purchase the property, you should inform the council so that the moratorium period can be extended to 6 months.

You then have 6 months to raise the funds to purchase the property and run it as a community pub. 

Top 10 Tips for Getting Started

  1. Establish the facts – who owns the pub, why has it ‘failed', what is the likely purchase price, what is the trading history?
  2. Assess levels of support within the community through community meetings, questionnaires or knocking on doors.
  3. Form a committee to drive the campaign – ideally people with a strong mix of commitment, skills and experience.
  4. Set up a communication list and hub, such as a website, e-mail list, facebook or twitter.
  5. Establish a vision for the pub – what does the community want it to be?
  6. Apply to list your pub as an Asset of Community Value to help give you time to raise funds to buy the pub.
  7. Utilise local people and skills to give practical help with refurbishment, marketing, communications etc.
  8. Find and speak to other community owned pubs to help with the plans. Your local CAMRA branch will know if there are others in the area.
  9. Research into available sources on funding and what you will need to move forward with the business, e.g. business plan, prospectus for investors.
  10. Gather as much information and advice from sources such as the Plunkett Foundation, Locality, Pub is the Hub, etc.

Obtaining Finance

For most people the daunting sticking point to community ownership comes with the finance. The prospect of raising large sums of cash to buy the property let alone then financing refurbishment and other start up costs seems an impossible task. But it is happening and there are lots of loans, grants and other fundraising methods which are being successfully used.

Case study: Take the Ivy House pub in Nunhead who raised the money needed to purchase the London pub - £500,000 - through a combination of a loan from the Architectural Heritage Fund and a grant from Locality's My Community Rights Scheme. Once purchased they then needed start up cash and issued Community Shares. This resulted in £70,000 raised in two months and currently stands at £144,500 thanks to the generosity and interest from the local community.

For more information, advice and case studies please visit Plunkett's dedicated page for cooperatively owned pubs at http://www.pubs.coop/ 

Sources of finance:

DOWNLOAD HERE additional information taken from a campaigns workshop on Community Ownership run by CAMRA, Department of Communities and Local Government, Locality, Plunkett and Pub is The Hub.