A campaign to save the historic Sportsman’s Arms pub at Penketh, Warrington, has received a major boost with the borough council agreeing to list it as a community asset.
It has become the third pub in the town to be listed by the council following on from the Ring O Bells at Stretton and the Star Inn at Statham, Lymm, earlier this year.
While the listing does not prevent the building from being sold, or re-developed for another purpose, it means the owner must inform the local authority if it intends to sell the property and that any local group can hold up the proposed sale for six months while they attempt to raise the money to buy it.
Real ale campaigners CAMRA and local users have been battling to save the pub on Warrington Road, which has public house since 1850 contributing to 166 years of community use.
The pub hosts regular quiz nights and a singles night on Wednesdays which bring the community together, supports local charities, has a great food menu enjoyed by the local community as well as live music events providing a platform for local artists and contributing to the culture of the community with occasional weekend music festivals, the most recent being May 2016.
It has previously won the Marstons Community Pub of the Year – North Region as recently as 2012 as well as receiving a Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor.
More than 125 ‘Save the Sportsman’s Arms” Feedback Forms were completed with support from local councillors Linda Dirir and David Keane and Warrington South MP David Mowat.
There were also over 40 individual written comments submitted to the Council and support from Penketh Parish Council.
There was just one letter of objection from the current tenant Landlord of the Sportsman’s Arms stating that the number of people and organisations who use the pub had “massively declined in recent years”.
The landlord argued that the pub could not be considered as an ACV when so few members of the local community used it. He also outlined that there were eleven other drinking establishments within a mile of the Sportsman’s Arms.
The landlord also questioned the ability of the local community to purchase and successfully run the pub in the future.
But the council’s Planning and Policy Programmes Manager Michael Bell said: “From the information submitted and the significant public support the for ACV nomination, it is considered that the Sportsman’s Arms Public House currently furthers the social interest and social wellbeing of the local community and it is realistic to think that it could continue to do so in the future. The Sportsman’s Arms Public House should therefore be listed as an Asset of Community Value.
Mr Bell concluded: “Having considered all the factors above, it is my view that the nominated asset falls within the category of an Asset of Community Value as defined by the Localism Act and associated regulations and that it should be listed as such by this council.”
Supermarket chain Netto had planned to take over the site but the company has since decided to close its existing 16 UK stores after pulling out of a Joint Venture with Sainsburys.
Warrington Civic Society Chairman John Shipley welcomed the news saying: “This is great news for Warrington’s heritage and show’s what can be achieved when communities and groups like CAMRA work together. With the Ring O’Bells in Stretton and the Star in Statham, this is the third pub registered as an Asset of Community Value in the borough. Warrington Civic Society look forward to being involved in future applications to help protect some of the town’s most historic and unique buildings.”