Going, Going, Going to open again by the spring !
The Caverswall Community Society has been formed to save The Auctioneers Arms from demolition and the site from conversion to housing. Click here to read the background to the story at the bottom of this page.
Update 9th January 2018
The New Year has brought some fantastic news as the Community Society complete the purchase of the pub and take possession of the keys. The members opened the doors for a few hours on Sunday afternoon to enable investors to have a look before the refurbishment work starts. They are aiming to have the building open to the public again by the spring.
Update 15th Ocober 2017
The Caverswall Community Society have announced the wonderful news that the owner has now accepted their revised offer to purchase the pub. The deal is subject to some terms and conditions and the steering group are hoping to have everything completed within the next 3 months.
Update 19th August 2017
The owner of the Auctioneers Arms has written to the Community Society rejecting their offer to purchase the premises. As the Community Society are unable to increase the amount they are willing to offer it seems that, for the time being at least, the campaign has stalled. The next move appears to be in the hands of the owner.
A similar situation has occurred with two other former pubs in England both of which have been designated as an Asset of Community Value. In the case of The Thorold Arms in Lincolnshire the current owner recently submitted a Planning Application to convert the pub into residential accommodation. It will be interesting to see how the Planning Department views the application for a change of use. Update : 14th September 2017 – South Kesteven District Council have refused permission for the conversion. A paragraph from the decision letter appears below.
In another case the community group who were hoping to save The Kings Arms in Yorkshire have refunded their investors after they were unable to purchase the premises. The pub remains closed but the intentions of the owner with regard to future use is unclear. A recent planning application made by the owner was subsequently withdrawn. See the story in the local media.
Update 5th August 2017
Within the last few days the vision to purchase and re-open the pub has almost become a reality. The Crowdfunder share offer closed on the 1st of August having raised £102,800 from individual investors and a £100,000 grant from Big Society Capital. With additional share purchases paid for by cheques and funding from the Plunkett Foundation and the Key Fund the Community Society have now made an offer to purchase the pub for £250,000. A reply is awaited from the owner.
Update 7th July 2017
The Crowdfunder campaign had been set to close at the end of the 3rd extension of time on the 4th of July. On the 3rd of July the project was extended again and the fundraising target was also reduced. The new proposed (?) closing date for the share offer is the 1st of August 2017 and the fundraising target has been reduced from £250,000 to £200,000. The organisers say that they have been able to make the changes to their financial plans due to the potential approval of a business loan for £50,000 and an additional grant of £50,000.
Five additional pledges have been made during the last few days taking the total raised to 93% of the revised target of £200,000. A meeting for the Investors in this project has been arranged for the 14th of July. Click here to go directly to the Crowdfunder webpage.
Update 30th June 2017
Six additional pledges have been made during the last few days taking the total raised to 73% of the Crowdfunder Target which is £250,000. The total raised as at lunchtime today stood at £182,550 with 113 investors. The Crowdfunder project is due to close at 11:50pm on the 4th of July which means that there are 4 days left to raise the remaining £67,450.
As the Crowdfunder campaign moves towards the final few days it is interesting to make a snapshot comparison with 2 other pub campaigns. The Spotted Cow in Holbrook Derbyshire and The Craufurd Arms in Maidenhead Berkshire. Both of these Crowdfunder campaigns were boosted with £100,000 of Match Funding from Big Society Capital and both ended successfully earlier this year. The interesting point to compare is the source of the funding, in both cases the biggest proportion came from the residents and individual supporters. Although the reverse seems to be the case with the Knocks this is only a snapshot and the campaign is not over yet.
Update 24th June 2017
Additional pledges have been made during the previous week. Big Society Capital have given a fantastic boost to the campaign with their Match Funding Grant of £100,000. Combining the match funding with the pledges made by the members of the society means that the project has now reached 72% of the Crowdfunder Target. On the 23rd of June the organisers extended the campaign for a third time taking the closing date to 11:50pm on the 4th of July. There are 10 days left to raise the remaining £69,950.
Update 19th June 2017 :
Additional pledges have been made during the previous week bringing the total amount pledged so far to 32% of the target. Following an extention of the campaign announced on the 1st of June the fundraising on Crowdfunder was due to close at 10am this morning. As with the first part of the campaign there has been an almost daily countdown to the closing date on their Facebook and website pages. On the 17th of June the organisers extended the campaign for a second time taking the closing date to 11:50pm on the 30th of June.
Update 10th June 2017 :
Additional pledges have been made during the previous 7 days bringing the total amount pledged so far to 30% of the target. On the 1st of June the Steering Group were so impresssed with the level of support shown by the investors that they decided to extend the closing date of the Crowdfunder Campaign until 10am on the 19th of June 2017.
The Community Society have received some encouraging news from Big Society Capital, an independant financial organisation. If the local fundraising can achieve £100K then Big Society Capital will consider facilitating a match-funding sum of £100K.
Update 21st April 2017 :
Update 8th April 2017 :
Update 24th October 2016 :
The residents association have organised a public meeting on the 15th of November at 8pm and they have also produced a Flyer which will be circulated to addresses in the local area. The flyer includes a copy of their on-line survey which can be printed out. Click here to see a copy of the Flyer.
UPDATE 21st October 2016 :
Have Your Say ! On-Line Survey – White Acre Estates Ltd have decided to put the pub back on the market and the Caverswall and Cookshill Residents Association see this as a potential opportunity to create a community pub. They have organised an on-line survey to find out what services people would like to see the pub provide and to gauge the level of support. Click here to take part in the survey, all replies are anonymous but you can leave your contact details if you want to.
UPDATE 27th September 2016 :
The District Council have now registered the pub as a Community Asset. The Council has also placed a notification on their website stating that the applicant has withdrawn the initial application to demolish the building. The matter has been placed on the agenda at the next meeting of the Parish Council on the 3rd of October. The meeting will take place at 7.30 pm at the Village Hall and members of the public are welcome to attend. (Click here to see a copy of the minutes of that meeting.)
The last pint at the Auctioneers Arms was pulled on Saturday 20th of August 2016. The owners of the pub Enterprise Inns sold the premises at an auction. The purchaser was White Acre Estates Ltd who then prepared plans to develop the site for housing. They submitted an application to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council on the 7th of September 2016 to demolish the pub and clear the site.
A number of local residents and customers are very disapointed about the closure of the Auctioneers Arms, locally known as ‘The Knocks’. The pub has been at the centre of the community at Cookshill for over 100 years. The matter was raised at a meeting of the Parish Council on the 5th of September. The supporters are hopeful that they can save the pub and they went on to form a Community Society. They were also successful with an application to get the pub listed as an Asset of Community Value by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) on the 19th of September 2016.
The Community Asset listing had an immediate effect. It created a six month period during which White Acre Estates could not sell or demolish the Auctioneers Arms. This provided the Community Society with a time window to get organised and raise the funds so that they can make an offer to purchase the pub. Shortly after the pub was made an Asset of Community Value White Acre Estates decided to put the pub back on the market and a For Sale sign was attached to the building. The six month moratorium period ended on the 21st of March 2017 and shortly afterwards the For Sale sign was taken down.
The end of the six month period meant that since the 21st of March 2017 White Acre Estates have been free to sell the pub to the Caverswall Community Society or to someone else. They also have the option to simply decide not to sell the premises at the present time. If White Acre Estates or the next owner want to develop the site involving a ‘change of use’ they will have to make an application to the SMDC for Planning Permission.
The success or failure of these projects is not just about the money or the levels of enthusiasm or apathy within the local area. The present owner of the pub does not have to sell it to the Caverswall Community Society or to anyone else. This has happened with other ‘Save The Pub’ campaigns around the country. A recent example is the The King Arms at Heaton, see the story here that was reported in the local newspaper.
So could the Planners save the Knocks ? Well each case is judged on its own merits but to see the decision made by the SMDC on the fate of a pub in Leek read this news story published by the Leek Post & Times on the 1st of April 2017.
On the 21st of April the Caverswall Community Society launched their Share Offer giving everyone an exciting opportunity to pledge some money and become a part owner of the pub, providing that they can persuade White Acre Estates to sell it to them. This could turn out to be the last and only chance to save the Auctioneers Arms and the clock is ticking. So if you would like to get involved visit the Caverswall Community Society website without delay. You can also click here to go directly to their Crowdfunder website.
Save The Knocks and lose The Red House ?
Standing in the village square The Red House pre-dates the Auctioneers Arms by some years. The Red House is owned by Enterprise Inns and the manager, Andy Connor, has voiced his concerns about the risk posed if the Auctioneers Arms was to open as a Free House – “If the Auctioneers re – opens as a free house then there is every chance that we could cease trading at the Red House, as we all know there hasn’t been enough customers to keep 2 pubs open for about 8 years now and as we are tied to Enterprise Inns we could not compete on prices. Heaven forbid you all lost the Red house car park as well.”
The Red House has a page on Facebook.