Tally Ho consortium woos pub owners
But first its members must persuade the new owners, Acres Developments, to sell it to them.
The first, major hurdle was overcome when West Berkshire planners rejected a bid by developers to convert the existing building to a terrace of three, three bedroom homes.
The proposal mobilised public support to keep the pub and a website was created, www.savethetally.org.uk
Meanwhile a flurry of objection letters were posted on West Berkshire Council website’s planning portal and Newbury MP joined the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in decrying the potential loss of a last community hub.
Even nationally acclaimed pop singer KT Tunstall got in on the act, linking to the website via social networking facility Twitter, adding: “Free gig if it’s saved!”
Although the immediate threat has receded, one of the campaign organisers, Brenda Lukey, said: “Although we have tried to start negotiations with the developers, so far they won’t indicate whether they’re prepared to sell or, if they are, to indicate a price.
“They, of course, are in the fortunate position of being able to just sit on it for years while the property goes downhill and eventually to reapply for planning permission - which they’d probably then get on the grounds that it has become an eyesore and a wreck.”
She added: “Even in the six months months that it’s been empty, there’s already been quite a bit of deterioration. One ceiling is down after some upstairs flooding.”
Nevertheless there is hope.
The investors are in discussion with national advisory group Pub Is The Hub (PITH).
PITH was initiated by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2001, as President of Business in the Community. It is affiliated to the Princes Rural Action Programme, and is a 'not for profit' advisory organisation.
PITH assists with guidance on availability of project funding, and is able to advise on the best way to progress with each individual project.
Ms Lukey said: “We’re in discussion with them over optimal structure of business, for example whether it should be a co-operative ownership, community interest company or a private limited company and we’ve continued to evaluate borrowing sources.
“We have had a meeting of potential investors which went very well. They are not all local people but they are all very serious and asked a lot of good questions. They
have given commitments in excess of £100,000, and a borrowing facility has been agreed in principle. Of course, additional investment will reduce the amount we need to borrow, so we are actively seeking further investors.”
She added: “The plan is to buy it and refurbish it because Wadworths brewery ripped out efverything they could when they sold it. Then we would install a manager to run it. We believe it can be done.”