Drovers Inn Pub, Dorset sold to Local community.
The Drovers Inn, Gussage All Saints, Dorset completed to the Gussage Community Benefit Society Ltd on Friday 11th May. After a long fought battle to save their local pub, the locals of a small Dorset village managed to raise over 400,000 including getting a mortgage approved by a commercial lender to fund the purchase of the freehold of the only pub in the village, which has been closed for over a year when the last tenant gave notice to vacate in 2014. The site was marketed for sale by Savills for a year, with no operator interest in the site.
Leisure Developer Andy Scott applied for planning permission in December 2014 for change of use and conversion to a large single residential dwelling
The locals of this affluent village successfully nominated the pub as an Asset of Community value (ACV) in February 2015, and despite the applicant’s and council’s own viability reports confirming the Pub was unviable; the permission was still refused on the grounds the locals believed they could make a success of their pub; and should be given an opportunity to do so. The locals who have no experience of operating a pub clubbed together and managed to raise over 400,000 between the 200 villagers on the microgenius (the community share platform). The locals themselves raised over 160,000 between them. The community who now own their own pub, next priority is to replace the roof, and refurbish the building and are seeking an experienced tenant to run the Drovers on their behalf. . The Drovers is a part thatched 16th century Inn, set in idyllic countryside, with an acre of land and stables to the rear.
The residents are amongst a small but growing trend of community groups seeking to buy their own community assets with around 60 pubs nationwide owned by local communities. With pub closures slowing; but still at a rate of approximately 30 closing each week, the Drovers is an example of how the 2011 localism act is working and allowing locals to club together and buy their local assets. Communities will look at the purchase differently and don’t need a commercially viable return as operators or Pub Co’s do. Andy Scott is glad the sale finally completed after this 18-month battle, and genuinely wishes the new owners every success with the pub and for the future; and looks forward to returning for a pint in the summer.