News Updates on The Community Pub InitiativeMost recent at the top, oldest at the bottom
Current State of Play
Following a public meeting at which the various limited options were debated, the Directors of Lyonshall Pub Ltd determined that the applications to invest in LP Ltd should not be accepted, and that the funds should be returned to the would-be subscribers. These funds have now been returned, all bar £750 from the original subscribing directors of LP Ltd which will be retained to keep the legal entity alive - in case it might come in useful again!
The pub is off the open market, and the planning application withdrawn. There is therefore, at the moment, nothing to do with the community pub initiative or with the funds that had been raised. Lyonshall's pub is back to situation which existed before Punch Taverns put it on the market.
Community Pub update 3rd September 2012
The Planning Application process for the development of the car park at The Royal George, which started on 8th May 2012, appears to have stalled after 4 months. There was no movement on Herefordshire Council’s website entry for this application between the end of June and 30th August. It was scheduled for a decision at the Planning Committee meeting on 29th August, but it never even appeared on the agenda – much to Roger Phillips’ disgust and embarrassment. Numerous individuals had blocked out the date in their diary (including Roger!) in order to underline the strength of feeling this application had created. Then on 29th August Herefordshire Council’s planners announced that the planning application had been formally withdrawn on that date.
Roger Phillips said, in an email to the planners, to the Chairman of the Planning Committee, and to Lyonshall Pub Ltd., “During June and July, as emails will confirm, discussion took place between myself and the planning officers about getting this to committee and the date was confirmed in late July - hence its reference in monthly update to my residents. I sent an email on 15th August to confirm it was still on the agenda and was taken completely by surprise that it had been removed without anyone contacting me. I agree with you (Lyonshall Pub Ltd) that the community`s level of trust in planning process has taken a significant knock when a matter with so much public interest is treated in this manner. I have spoken to the Chairman of Planning and he assures me he was not aware of the application so I am concerned why he was not briefed on the matter and will be following that up.”
The Planning Department of Herefordshire Council do
not come out of this looking good. They gave appalling advice to the developers in the first place – giving rise to the proposal itself which has caused such strength of feeling (over 100 objections) and causing unrealistic expectations in Punch counting their development gain profits. The planners then promised to Roger Phillips a committee date of 29th August to enable a democratic decision to be made, and then appear to have done nothing to bring this about. Emails to the senior planner involved remain unanswered and it is currently unclear whether the very-recent withdrawal is temporary or permanent.
There are rumours of a changed application – sufficiently changed to warrant a completely new application and so the clock might start all over again. There are rumours of the senior planner attempting to get Punch to withdraw their current application, possibly in order to avoid the cumbersome task of writing his formal assessment report which would involve the analysis and summary of each and every objection received! The offered reason for the withdrawal is “water quality” which may or may not be addressed in the future, and it appears that the planners want a different design of development, but again the nature of this is unclear. Facts are in short supply.
Meanwhile the fund-raising by Lyonshall Pub Limited appears to have levelled off with applications to invest having been received from 95 individuals in 55 households. Not surprisingly, given the uncertainty over the planning application, this is a lot less than the number of people who appeared committed when answering the questionnaire. The money raised is safely in a Co-operative Bank Account, earning a small rate of interest.
Now that the property has been withdrawn from the market by the owners, and that the planning application has itself been withdrawn, the time has come for another public meeting to determine our next steps. This meeting will be held on Thursday 20th September in the Lyonshall Memorial Hall at 7.30pm, and is open to anyone who is interested in the future of the pub in Lyonshall.
Receipts have not been issued to those who have applied for shares – if you have sent in an application and your cheque has been cashed then your money has been safely received and is still intact. Should you wish for an acknowledgement then let Chris Smith know (340598, firstname.lastname@example.org) and he will issue one. In the event that LP Ltd proceeds with a pub purchase then you will in due course be issued with numbered share certificates of LP Ltd.
Community Pub Update 27th July 2012
There is little progress to report on the planning application, which is scheduled to go to the Herefordshire Council Planning Committee Meeting on 29th August 2012. With over 100 good quality objections, it is difficult to see how the elected councillors will give this proposal their blessing and the key issue may be a subsequent appeal against a “No!” decision at the committee. The time scales of such an appeal are unclear, but will normally depend upon the workload of the Planning Inspectors at that time and on the complexity of the planning application and associated issues. One could easily envisage a resolution (hopefully a final “No!” from a Planning Inspector at Appeal stage) as late as the end of October 2012.
As previously reported, in early July the agents for Punch Taverns, Sidney Phillips estate agents, approached the Lyonshall Pub Ltd in an effort to elicit an offer to purcha
se the pub at that stage. The answer given to them was basically that LPLtd is not in a position to make an offer because of both the current planning uncertainty hanging over the property and because of the fact that as yet not enough money had been raised to make a sensible offer – not least because of the planning uncertainty caused by the vendors. After a bit of thought, and one presumes some discussions with Punch Taverns, we were told that Punch were taking it off the open market until the planning issue had been resolved. We don’t think that this development is very important.
Meanwhile Dave & Aileen continue to build the business back and are supplying excellent ales and very good value food. Live music of a very high quality rings the changes, and it is good to see the place alive and well, fulfilling its role in the community. They have had little official contact with Punch concerning the sale, other than they have had confirmation from Punch that the pub has been taken off the open market – but they had to ask first, rather than being told in advance.
For all those who have advanced money and subscribed for shares, thank you. This is safely banked and earning a very modest rate of interest. For all those who have made promises to come up with money and to subscribe for shares, please now do so. We wish to be ready for developments and things might move quickly. If we do not end up proceeding with a purchase of the pub you are
guaranteed to receive all of your money back as we are determined not to spend anything until we know we have a deal. We are indefinitely extending the fund raising period until there is a final resolution on the planning application. Please (if you have not already done so) now let us know what you are prepared to sign up for or indeed to advance. We need to be in a position to know where we stand in order possibly to negotiate with the sellers, so please return your completed application forms, signed and preferably accompanied by a cheque – to Paul Avery, Wildwood, Lyonshall (340409) or Chris Smith, The Old Vicarage, Lyonshall, (340598).
Royal George News Item 4th July 2012
The consultation period for the Planning Application for the rear of the plot of The Royal George has now expired, although not all objections have been uploaded to the website yet. There are, so far, 106 varied and thorough objections to the proposed development on the Herefordshire Council Website
as well as 4 comments (from Council Officers and Welsh Water) suggesting conditions if the proposal is approved. In the light of this overwhelming and strong community response it has to be viewed as very unlikely that the proposal will get approved at Planning Committee.
Meanwhile the fund-raising based on the Lyonshall Pub Limited (LPLtd) Prospectus continues. The deadline for closure was initially set as the end of June 2012, but, not surprisingly, in the light of the uncertainty caused by the Planning Application, the response has so far been inconclusive. We are more than half way towards our minimum fund raising target but there are more promises to come in and we urge all potential investors to let us know where they stand – even if this is conditional upon the planning being resolved satisfactorily (i.e. definitively turned down or withdrawn). We already have a substantial sum in our bank account, and more comes in daily. We are not spending anything, so anyone who has already advanced money – or who is considering doing so - is guaranteed to get 100% of their advance returned if the acquisition does not proceed.
The Company (LPLtd) has today (4th July) been approached by the agents for the sellers (Punch Taverns), and they are seeking from us an offer to purchase the whole site. They (the agents and the sellers) must be aware of the probabilities on the outcome of the proposed building development. We are not in a position to make an offer to purchase as our fund- raising is incomplete, not least because of the uncertainty on the sellers’ Planning Application, as we have pointed out to them.
In the light of the above, The Directors of LPLtd have decided formally to extend the deadline on fund raising, initially to the end of July 2012. Please (if you have not already done so) now let us know what you are prepared to sign up for or indeed to advance. We need to be in a position to know where we stand in order to negotiate with the sellers, so please return your completed application forms, signed and preferably accompanied by a cheque – to Paul Avery, Wildwood, Lyonshall (340409) or Chris Smith, The Old Vicarage, Lyonshall, (340598).
In the event that the planning application is still unresolved at the end of July, it may be necessary again to extend the fund-raising deadline.
Royal George Update 30th May 2012
An open meeting was held tonight and the presentation slides are available as a document electronically (on the right of this page).
Much concern was expressed at the planning application which had been lodged in the last day or so. The consultation timetable - the period during which opinions may be expressed on Herefordshire Council's website - has been published, and closes on Thursday 28th June 2012.
The Prospectus of Lyonshall Pub Limited was published,
and has been hand-delivered to every household in the parish. It is also available as a document electronically (on the right of this page), as is the application form for investing in the community purchase of the pub.
May Day Update on the Community Purchase of the Royal George.
The Directors of Lyonshall Pub Ltd provide an update below on the Community Pub Project.
Core funding process
The Company is formally established and called Lyonshall Pub Ltd. The rules of the company are on this website (documents on the right of this page). We are in the process of opening a bank account.
The initial Board of Directors has been established. It comprises Paul Avery, Kinsey Hern, Gio Hilditch, Jean Howard, Nick Rowlatt, Chris Smith, Chris South, Andrew Turner, Richard Williams. It has met twice to review the project with fresh eyes and is now working together to bring the project to fruition.
The prospectus is substantially drafted. The full board is reviewing the draft in detail. We expect to launch this at a public meeting on Wednesday the 30th May. We will confirm this nearer the time but please pencil this important date in.
Repairs and improvements
A Substantial amount of detailed investigative work has been completed on all major aspects of the building involving professionals and listing officers, Black and White Specialists, and building historians.
Whilst obviously we are not in a position to ask for firm quotes we do now have a good understanding of the scale of costs involved.
The directors look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the meeting to launch the prospectus. If in the meantime you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact any of the directors.Interest from other potential buyers
We are told that there was an offer below the asking price from potential landlord who may have wanted to establish a micro brewery. Punch Taverns rejected the offer. We do not know how much the offer was for.
Many of you will have noticed recent survey work on The Royal George’s car park at the back – this was undertaken by a developer looking to build on the back car park. We may soon see a formal planning application for the grounds of the Royal George, which will be vigorously opposed.
Current Situation at the Pub.
The new ‘tenants at will’, Aileen & Dave, have settled in well and are proving very popular and helpful. They could well be good potential candidates for tenants of a community pub.
They are building up a positive reputation for honest good pub food and good beer. The live music innovation is refreshing, and it is great to see the pub humming. We can again be proud to recommend it.
Please do continue to support the pub as it helps build up its business for our future.
Current position on Funding
Even before the prospectus has been published we have promises of around £150,000 from a small number of investors whom we have approached. We hope to increase this amount before we launch the prospectus currently planned for the 30th May.
We will need a lot more money to complete the pub project so please do think about how much you can afford to help save the pub for the community.
We have also been working with the Parish Council to ensure they get the very-recent ‘Powers of Competence
’ under the Localism Act in case we need assistance from them in the future. You will have seen on the notice boards and in the Parish Magazine that some councillors have resigned and offered themselves for re-election so that the Parish Council could meet one of the qualifying requirements. This process although cumbersome may well prove to be time well spent.
Christmas 2011 News Update
Things have gone a little quiet leading up to Christmas, but progress
continues to be made in the background.
The full report which documents the results from the detailed questionnaire has now been published - emailed to all respondents to the questionnaire who gave their email addresses. This highly professional piece of work is a valuable document, which could be of great use to commercial competitors, and so it is not being published in whole on this web site. If anybody wants a copy then please email Chris Smith
to send you an electronic copy, or if you need a printed copy please phone him on 340598.
The Parish Council recently gave a grant of £800 to the Community Pub Initiative, based on the overhwelming community support that was obvious from the questionnaire results, and this grant is being used to set up an Industrial & Provident Society to be called Lyonshall Pub Ltd. This type of company is specifically designed for such community-oriented ventures, but takes a little longer to establish. It is regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA)
and more detail about this type of company can be found from their website.
No external interest has been shown by third-party purchasers
of the pub, and no visitors have been shown round the property. The market appears to be saturated with pubs for sale, and maybe this is the ideal time to buy!
People who indicated within their questionnaire responses that they might be interested in serving as Directors in the new company will be contacted in January for an exploratory session of, "Who might want to do what?" - this won't be about who wants to join a talking shop, but it will be about who has the skills and energy to make things happen in a controlled way.
Second Public Meeting1st December 2011
The second public meeting was held on 1st December, with a turnout of 75 people and having received 25 apologies.
A presentation was given that covered an update on what progress had been made and the next steps envisaged. The slides used in the presentation
are loaded to this website and should be shown as a document on the right-hand side of this webpage.
At the end of October 2011 a detailed questionnaire
was hand-delivered to each of the 280 households in the parish and it was also made available on the internet (this website).
By the end of November all returns had been analysed and initial feedback is to be given at a public meeting held on 1st December 2011 at 7.30pm in the Lyonshall Memorial Hall.
From the questionnaire there is a rich source of detailed data for any new publican of the Royal george, whether a private individual or as a tenant running the pub on behalf of the community.