Deal agreed for sale of threatened Northwold pub
An agreement has been reached between the owners of an under threat village pub and the steering group leading the fight to save it.
Residents of Northwold applauded the announcement of the deal for the Crown Inn during a public meeting at the village’s Sports and Social Club last night.
But campaign leaders have warned that more community support is still needed to guarantee the pub can be run as a viable business.
Parish councillor Cliff Anderson, who is also on the steering group, told villagers: “Please go from here and spread the word. We’ve got the pub and we need this extra investment.”
The announcement follows more than a year of campaigning by villagers to have the pub listed as an asset of community value, meaning the village had the first opportunity to buy it, and then raise funds towards it.
Discussions, which Mr Anderson had been conducted professionally despite speculation to the contrary in the village, have been taking place between the steering group and the pub’s current owners for several months.
The meeting was told that, after three earlier offers were rejected, a fourth and final bid worth a total of £275,000 was accepted last Tuesday.
The agreement includes a deferred payment of £25,000 over five years which officials said had enabled the deal to be reached. It is hoped that the sale will be completed in the next few weeks.
Supporters have already bought around £80,000 worth of shares in the pub, with a further £10,000 in pledges still to be cashed.
The campaign has also secured a £50,000 grant from the Plunkett Foundation, plus a £50,000 loan and the offer of another £70,000 from a major, unnamed, brewery.
But officials admitted the full amount of loan commitments would make the pub’s profitability marginal and say fresh support is needed within the village to reduce the debt burden.
Although one resident voiced concerns about what he felt was a relatively low number of shareholders so far, the steering group hopes the announcement of the sale agreement will now encourage other residents, who have not pledged money so far, to come forward.
Mr Anderson said the viability of the village of a whole could be called into question if the pub was lost.
He added: “If we can put Northwold on the map by having a viable, welcoming, successful pub, that can only be good for the village."
Officials also plan to approach local businesses to get involved, while an online crowdfunding campaign was also suggested as an option. The meeting heard the successful appeal to re-open the King’s Arms in Shouldham had used the platform.