Residents have suffered a setback in their quest to save a village pub from demolition.
The new owners of the Boar’s Head in Barton are planning to demolish it for houses.
The local community thought they had see off that threat when they achieved a hard-fought Asset of Community Value Status for the building.
It is the only pub in Preston to ever be awarded the status after 600 residents rallied behind an application to halt a demolition notice issued by new owners NWL Properties in December 2016.
Barton villagers want to buy the 200-year-old pub as a co-operative and add a host of local services including a adding a library, post office and a cash point.
But now, NWL has appealed against the pub’s new status and a decision to uphold or remove the status will be made by Preston Council before April 17.
Chairman of Barton Parish Council John Parker said: “As a rural community we have no facilities. We have to travel miles to the nearest public library, post office, cash machine or grocery shop.
“By buying the Boars Head as a village co-operative, it will allow residents to improve facilities and essential services within the village themselves.”
Becca Hewitson, spokesman for Barton Heritage Group, said: “We need our pub as it’s the centre of village life and part of our heritage.
“It’s where we have celebrated christenings, cried at funeral wakes, held school PTFA and other committee meetings, celebrated our village Rose Queen and gave thanks for the Harvest in Autumn by eating Sunday Lunch together.
“The pub, its car park and playground are essential for the whole community of Barton.
“What we need is for our local council to stand up for us and to stand by its original decision to keep the Asset of Community Value Status, otherwise what do they really stand for?”
When approached by the Lancashire Post, pub owners NWL Properties declined to comment.
A Preston Council spokesman said: “As the council was asked to carry out a listing review, we are now going through that process.
“The decision of which will be made public within the specified eight-week period.”
What is a community asset?
The status, also known as the ‘community right to bid’, means the group is given time to come up the cash to buy the asset when the owners decide to sell.
NWL has informed Preston Council of its intention to sell meaning a period known as moratorium is triggered.
This six-month time frame means the owners can market and negotiate the sale but cannot exchange contracts.
The only exception to this is if they decide to sell to the community group.
After this period, the owners can sell the property and so the community bid may not be successful.
A good example of a community run pub is the George and Dragon in Hudson, North Yorkshire, which was named the best in the country earlier this year.
The pub had closed in 2008 after the owners went bankrupt, but locals formed a co-operative to buy and refurbish it before it reopened in 2010.
In March, it was named Pub of the Year by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).
As well as acting as a meeting place and venue, it is now home to the village library, a local shop staffed by volunteers, community allotments and free internet access for its patrons.