PASSIONATE VILLAGERS hoping to take over a much-loved pub this week raised a glass to the news that plans to turn it into a residential property were refused. 

Members of Chalford Hill Community Benefit Society are looking to buy the Old Neighbourhood Inn and run it as a pub and community hub. 

The Old Neighbourhood closed unexpectedly nearly 18 months ago - sparking a campaign by locals to buy it for the community.

But the fight has recently stepped up after plans came to light to turn the Inn, which opened in the 1850s, into a residential property.

The refusal by planning officers has been greeted by the community who this week raised a glass to the news. 

Stroud News and Journal: Chalford Hill Community Benefit Society committee members take a moment to celebrate withPlanning officers said: "The application fails to demonstrably justify that there is not the prospect of a continued community use or that the site as a public house is not viable.

"The marketing exercise does not demonstrate a realistic or fair market value that reflects market conditions or that part of the site has been sold and moreover introduces barriers to a sale to the community or a private interested party."

CBS chair Tim Woodfine said: “The planning application was an unwelcome distraction from the preparation and fundraising needed to buy the pub. 

"We are now very close to launching our community share offer, following the growing number of other successful community pubs around the country, but have been delayed while fending off this planning application. 

"In June, we will be consolidating funds pledged to date and offering the opportunity to be part of this exciting community ownership initiative through the share offer. "

Group member Cllr Tricia Watson, said: "There is a committed and well supported community group who are willing and able to make this space a thriving village centre.

"Turning it into yet another residential property goes against so many national and local planning regulations, but sometimes happens.

"We are grateful to SDC for confirming that will not be the case here.”

Tony Davey, chair of Stroud Chamber of Trade, said: “The community is passionate about saving the Inn as a community resource and this move will likely be bolstering for them.

"Public houses are more than just place to go for a drink and maybe food - they are often very important local community hubs too, that provide a secondary, yet vital, role.

"In rural areas such as Chalford, they can be very important in fighting isolation and improving mental wellbeing."

In a planning statement, the applicant had said: "The building is deteriorating and if it is not used as a pub then it needs to be put to some other use such as a home for someone."

They also claim that over the last 18 months there has been a 'lack of interest in leasing or purchasing the property to remain as a pub.'

See the latest decision here -