With the Red House in London Street currently closed and on the market, the meeting had been called with the aims of determining whether creating a community-based group would be able to raise funding to purchase and run the public house.
Community purchase welcome
The Red House has recently closed to allow for building works on new toilets and a first-fit kitchen to take place. It is also currently for sale at £475,000 with the owner stating that an offer from a community group would be welcome.
Meanwhile work is also presently underway on constructing three houses, a car park and a new garden as part of a planning application approved in 2015.
Standing room only
Despite there being just two days notice the Town Hall chamber was standing room only as local resident Mark Bishop ran through the various options before calling for a show of interest in the various set-up stages. These ranged from wider consultations through leaflet drops, social media and websites, through to investigating various business models, finance sources and share schemes.
Mark reported on a fact finding tour as well as on the contacts already made with organisations that may assist such as The Plunkett Foundation who are specialists in supporting community purchases. Town Council Chairman John Buckley ran through some of the planning matters such as viability as well as the importance of the public house to the history, economy and social fabric of the town. He also explained the benefits of being listed as an Asset of Community Value and that an application has been submitted to Basingstoke & Deane awaiting approval.
The meeting was unanimous in its positive support for investigating a potential community purchase.
14 local residents initially expressed interest in being part of a Steering Group, with many others volunteering to be involved in related tasks.
Plans were put in place for the next meeting of the Steering Group which will make arrangements for publicising a wider Community Meeting open to all.
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