Villagers bid to buy Huntingdonshire pub rejected

Residents outside the Royal Oak pub, Hail Weston, celebrating their proposal to buy (and save) the p

Residents outside the Royal Oak pub, Hail Weston, celebrating their proposal to buy (and save) the pub - Credit: Archant

A campaign to get a village pub back open and serving the community will continue despite a failed bid to buy the building.

The Hail Weston Community Pub Society last month made an offer of up to £200,000 for the Royal Oak, but it was rejected by the owner.

The offer, the society said, remained on the table while the plans to reopen the pub – the last in the village – have the backing of Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly.

However, the building has been put back on the open market and is being offered for sale through Taylors Estate Agents in St Neots with a guide price of £325,000.

A six-month moratorium giving the group first opportunity to make an offer also came to an end on December 3.

Despite the property being up for sale, the society’s treasurer, Andy James, said: “Our focus is to ensure that we do what we can to ensure we keep driving forward.

“If we were successful in buying the pub there would be a great amount of rejoicing throughout the village.”

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He added that, as far as the society was aware, restrictions remained in place to prevent the pub from being converted for residential use.

Mr Djanogly said: “From my perspective I am always very keen to defend the last pub in a rural village. I think they are a vital aspect of local communities, particularly when the community itself is so keen to retain the facility. They have my full support.”

The property advert currently suggests the building could be used as a village tea room, shop, gallery or restaurant.

Huntingdonshire District Council told The Hunts Post it had received a number of requests from the community under Article 4 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 – a planning order that can prevent a change of use of a building.

A spokesman for HDC said: “The matter is under consideration.”

The 17th century building was sold to Andy Vidler in November 2011 by the Charles Wells Pub Company. He was forced to put it on the market after suffering a stroke.

The pub closed on January 1 last year and Hail Weston residents formed the Save the Royal Oak Action Group to protect the pub.

The Hail Weston Community Pub Society was formally registered in October last year and has been fundraising and applying for grants to take control of the Grade II-listed building.

The pub was put up for auction in 2012 with a guide price of £270,000, but it failed to sell.