Fresh bid to revitalise derelict village pub for £230,000
PUBLISHED: 06:30 05 August 2020 | UPDATED: 13:32 05 August 2020
© Tony Buckingham/ UNP 0845 600 7737
A derelict village pub could be brought back to life if an ambitious plan to raise £230,000 is successful.
Villagers in Gressenhall, near Dereham, need to raise the cash to buy, refurbish and reopen the Swan pub, which closed in July 2018.
Alex Begg, one of the people leading the campaign, said they hoped to fundraise through a venture capital scheme called Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR).
Mr Begg said SITR offered a low rate of interest and gave investors up to 30pc back in tax relief.
He said they would start a two-month campaign in late August, with people able to buy shares - starting at £50 - in the pub.
You may also want to watch:
He said: “£350,000 would acquire the building, complete internal developments and give us enough money to get going and we believe we can achieve this through social investment loans and a share raise of £230,000. It’s ambitious but I believe we can do it.
“Equally important for a project with the community at its heart, is the chance for people, who have a vested interest in its success, to get financially involved and enjoy some great tax incentives in the process.”
MORE: ‘It is absolutely invaluable’ - Community’s fight to save 18th century village pub
Mr Begg, who has worked on a scheme raising awareness about SITR in the past, said: “I am perhaps one of too few people who know a reasonable amount about SITR and am keen to make its benefits understood to prospective members of our Community Benefit Society as well as others trying to achieve similar aims.
“It is a great way of raising a significant amount of money with borrowing rates that are much more attractive than traditional lending.”
If the project is successful, the pub would open seven days a week offering a mixture of ales and food from produce sourced from nearby farms. Four jobs and a number of volunteer positions would be created and themed evenings, quizzes and other fundraising events would be held.
After the Swan closed, owner Alastair Simpson applied to Breckland Council to use the site for four new homes, but this bid was rejected by the council’s planning committee.
The proposals were met with fierce opposition by local residents, with more than 70 letters of objection being submitted. The Gressenhall Community Enterprise was formed to try and buy the pub and bring it under community ownership.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Dereham Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.