The fate of Redgrave’s last pub rests on the efforts of a new steering group, as it begins the quest for funds to buy the business on behalf of the community.
The steering committee gained overwhelming backing in a survey of local residents to form a legal entity to secure the purchase of The Cross Keys pub, after the current owners announced earlier this year their intention to sell, offering it to the village as a community asset.
An expression of interest to bid has now been submitted to Mid Suffolk District Council, triggering a moratorium that prevents the sale of the Grade II-listed 16th century pub until October 25, 2017.
This will allow the village time to try to raise the funds needed to acquire the pub, which has been offered to the community for £300,000.
If the Redgrave community is not able to obtain The Cross Keys, it is expected that the business will close, subsequently enabling land behind the pub to be developed.
Planning permission has previously been granted to allow the construction of three holiday dwellings on the site, which is currently used by the pub as a car park.
“When the last pub in a village closes, a part of the village dies with it and this is the last thing we want,” said Ian Brown, chairman of the steering committee.
“The plan is to buy and refurbish The Cross Keys, turning it back into a family-friendly, community pub, serving ales, wines and delicious value-for-money pub grub.”
The streering group is currently working to establish itself as a legal body in collaboration with the Plunkett Foundation, which helped the village to secure its community shop, and Pub is the Hub, a charitable organisation founded by The Prince of Wales in 2001.
Once this is done, the committee plans to begin its fundraising, with ideas currently under consideration including coffee mornings, themed food nights, quizzes, afternoon teas and music events.
In the next couple of months, a prospectus is also set to be issued to village residents, outlining how they can purchase shares in the pub.
Fiona Kenworthy, a member of the steering committee, said the broad support within the local area showed there was every reason to believe their efforts would be successful.
“I think that the pub has so much potential and, if it closed, the community would be so much poorer not having a pub,” she said.
“It just makes the village really cohesive. It’s the only place where the community can go and meet up and have a nice meal.
“Even since being with the steering committee, I have met so many people I didn’t know before.
“It’s a huge venture, but, talking to the professionals, we have every confidence we can do it.”
Mike Denmark, chairman of Redgrave Parish Council, said the parish councillors supported the move to retain the pub for the community, and they would be discussing at future meetings what they could do to help in terms of fundraising.
He added: “We are in support of keeping it as a pub. I don’t think anyone wants to see it sold off.”
* What do you think about the future of The Cross Keys pub? Email firstname.lastname@example.org