VILLAGERS attempting to raise £350,000 to save their only pub are halfway to reaching their target.

In the last two weeks Horsley residents have pledged more than £175,000 to purchase shares in a company that aims to buy and operate the Bell and Castle pub in The Street, Horsley.

The Bell and Castle closed its doors in 2008 and since then has been the subject of four different planning applications.

The last of these, which included the building of three houses on the site of the pub garden and car park, was finally passed in 2012 and the developers Stag Developments Ltd have also rebuilt and restored the old building.

“Currently the building has to be operated as a pub, but if its viability as a business is in doubt the owners could apply for a change of use”, explained Horsley resident Versha Carter, who is also secretary of the newly formed Bell and Castle working group.

“The same building is worth a great deal more as a private house than it is worth as a pub so we need to work hard to ensure its survival.”

Now the working group is hoping to encourage other potential investors to come forward and join those who have already pledged.

“The momentum is growing and we have been very encouraged by the support we have already received,” said Mark Carden, chairman of the group.

“To have a community-owned pub would safeguard its future and generate a sense of ownership.

“But most of all buying a share in the Bell and Castle is an investment in the village and something that keeps the community together.”

Horsley already has a very successful school, a community-run shop and a church that has been revitalised by the 3-in-1 project, which uses the building jointly for church services, arts events and as a school hall.

The group hope to raise the £350,000 by the end of January.

To find out more about the Bell and Castle Working Group and how to invest go to