The Garboldisham community’s dream of reopening their pub which has been closed for nearly ten years is moving ever closer after their bid to buy the property was accepted.
Currently owned by the Wellington Pub Company, The Fox Inn has served the village on and off since 1774, but a pint has not been pulled in the public house since February 2007.
Peter Smith, director of The Garboldisham Fox Community Interest Company, likened the milestone to “reaching base camp when trying to climb Everest” and stressed there was still work to be done, but he said the dream of the pub reopening was within their grasp.
While it has not been revealed how big their offer was, boards outside the pub had The Fox Inn listed for sale at £190,000 plus VAT, with Mr Smith telling the Diss Express in May there was enough funding in place to make a “realistic” bid.
Mr Smith said paperwork now had to be completed but was hopeful of getting the keys to the pub by the end of August.
“The whole village has come together and shown such determination and generosity that it is no longer a case of ‘keep believing’ but will have to become ‘our village, our pub’ — where everybody will be more than welcome to share some time, a tipple and three courses in the restaurant,” he said.
“As to the next steps, well firstly we need to firm up our plans. This means surveys, architects, planning specialists, but most importantly we need the village to say what it wants to get from its pub.
“I have heard dozens of really good and innovative suggestions already as to what that might be but these need to be tempered with practicality.
“At the end of the day we need it to do what it says on the tin. We are a Community Interest Company — and the emphasis will always be on the first two words.
“This is the easy bit. We now have to make sure that the pub is viable on an ongoing basis and provides a facility that everybody wants to use.”
This is the easy bit. We now have to make sure that the pub is viable on an ongoing basis and provides a facility that everybody wants to usePeter Smith
He added ways to fund the project — grant applications and special events and more — were on the company’s agenda.
The community interest company had until June 1 to exclusively place a bid for The Fox Inn, which was submitted ahead of the deadline.
A group of residents first got together in 2010 to try and get the pub back open for business.
In 2009, a plan to turn the public house into five houses was rejected. Previous bids from the community for the pub have also been turned down in that time.
The Fox Inn was included on the Assets of Community Value list in 2014.