Tribunal judge gives boost to battle to save village pub

The Black Bull at Lowick
The Black Bull at Lowick

The owner of a historic village pub which closed last year is prepared to sell the property and insists it has no intention of reopening.

Meanwhile, a community group’s bid to save the Black Bull Hotel, in Lowick, received a boost from a tribunal judge, who confirmed its status as an ‘asset of community value’.

But Hawthorn Leisure Acquisitions Ltd, which took over ownership in April 2014, is now looking to sell the building for £320,000.

The community campaign group has been fighting to save the pub for more than a year. Plans under the previous owner to demolish the building to make way for housing did not go ahead, but its future again appeared in doubt in November when landlord Leslie Bell resigned and the pub was closed.

Hawthorn Leisure also challenged its listing as an ‘asset of community value’, but a judge has thrown out the appeal. Such a status affords the pub better protection from development, said Judge Nicholas Warren at the First-Tier Tribunal.

“The effect of listing is that, generally speaking, an owner intending to sell the asset must give notice to the local authority,” said the judge, president of the General Regulatory Chamber of the First-Tier Tribunal.

“A community interest group then has six weeks in which to ask to be treated as a potential bidder. If it does so, the sale cannot take place for six months.

“The theory is that this period, known as ‘the moratorium’, will allow the community group to come up with an alternative proposal.”

Responding to a letter from the parish council requesting that the pub be reopened, Hawthorn Leisure stated that it had no intention of doing so, adding it is now prepared to listen to offers of £320,000.