A move has been made to secure the future of Leyland’s oldest pub.
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has stepped in to preserve the Old Original Seven Stars which has just been sold.
The Central Lancashire branch of the organisation set the ball rolling towards making the pub an Asset of Community Value at a branch meeting last night.
Fears have been expressed about the Slater Lane pub, which dates back to 1686, and is also thought to be the second oldest in South Ribble.
A sale has just been agreed for the Enterprise Inns outlet, putting a question mark over its preservation.
Dave Linley, pub protection officer for the branch, said today: “I proposed that the branch should submit a nomination for an Asset of Community Value and that was accepted. The support was unanimous.”
Under the Localism Act 2011 local community groups have been given the right to nominate an area of land or a building for listing by South Ribble Borough Council as “an Asset of Community Value”.
Subject to certain conditions this will give an opportunity for “Community Interest Groups” to purchase the asset if the owner decides to sell it.
Mr Linley said: “I think it’s Leyland’s oldest pub and the second oldest in South Ribble.
“The country is losing a great number of pubs. CAMRA can’t see why this one should be lost.”
A Leyland pub boss said he, too, feared the pub could be lost forever.
Lee Forshaw hit out after submitting a failed bid for the pub which was put up for sale several months ago.
Pub sale specialists Fleurets, who are handling the sale on behalf of Enterprise Inns, added that two other offers are on the table for the Enterprise Inns-owned pub, including one from a local businessman with commercial and residential interests.
Mr Forshaw, director of the Withy Arms Group, said: “We were contacted by the agents because they were struggling to sell it.
“We put an offer in, but we then spoke to the agents who said Enterprise Inns will not sell it and allow it to remain open as a pub.
“They said they can’t afford it to be a pub because if it remains open as a freehouse it will affect trade of the Seven Stars.”
The Seven Stars, about 200 yards away on Leyland Lane, is also owned by Enterprise Inns.
Mr Forshaw added: “We were going to turn it into a real ale pub that would serve cask ales. There’s no other pub down there that sells cask ales.”
Mr Forshaw wants CAMRA to get involved and says the Old Original Seven Stars could even become an ‘Asset of Community Value’.
He said he fears the pub could be taken over and demolished to make way for other developments.
The Old Original Seven Stars was marketed by Fleurets at £150,000. Final offers closed on Friday.
Ian Taylor, Associate with Fleurets, said regarding Mr Forshaw’s bid: “He’s put an offer in for £75,000. It’s a business decision. There’s no caveat, it’s a simple business decision.
“I know Lee, we love what he does dearly, but his offer is really at the bottom end.”
The Withy Arms Group operates the Withy Arms, Worden Lane, Leyland and the Withy Arms, Station Road, Bamber Bridge.
A spokesperson from ei publican partnerships said there was no caveat on the pub, adding: “As part of our on-going business, we do from time to time identify a pub that may no longer have a long-term future in our estate.
“After careful consideration, the decision has been made to sell the freehold of the Old Original Seven Stars. We received several offers for the property ahead of the closing date on Friday, after which a sale was agreed with the highest bidder.”
Mick Clark, communications officer for the Central Lancashire branch of CAMRA, said: “From CAMRA’s point of view, we’ll pursue as early as possible the protection of that building as an Asset of Community Value.
“I think it’s a miscalculation on Enterprise’s part because the Withy Arms Group’s proposal would bring people in rather than detract from potential loss of custom at the Seven Stars.
“I think it’s a very negative thing on their part and this very legislation was brought in to prevent outcomes like this.”