West Norfolk village pub could be serving again next summer, group says
Stoke Ferry residents could be supping a pint at The Blue Bell again next summer.
That’s the ambition of the community group trying to gather the funds to buy and reopen the pub which last served in March 2018.
Save the Blue Bell campaigners believe they already have enough support within the community and will have the financial backing to table a realistic offer.
Committee chairman Stephen Ward said: “We’re confident we can buy it and be open by about late spring or early summer next year.”
Registered as a community benefit society, the hope is to secure £100,000, split 50/50 by grant and loan, from Plunkett Foundation, which supports community business ventures and runs the More Than A Pub programme.
A share offer would seek to raise the balance of the bid. The minimum investment will be £50 and anyone who buys a share would get a say in the development.
Plunkett Foundation has already provided a £2,500 grant which funded a full survey on the property last Tuesday.
Mr Ward said on Friday: “We await the results of that and providing there are no nasty shocks, we will be pressing on with our work.
“We were only established at the start of the pandemic and we’ve had strong support in the community, strong support from Plunkett and other community pubs nearby.”
The group is undeterred by property owner Oxygen 56 Ltd submitting a second bid for planning permission to convert the four-bedroom premises into a home.
That surprise move came with accusations that the community group was inactive and more interested in frustrating the change to residential use.
Mr Ward said: “He’s a businessman and he needs to run a business. You can understand that he might want to protect his position.”
The property is currently on the market for £220,000.