| 16/05/2016 |
The following article was published in the Summer edition of Sussex Drinkers.
| 12/04/2016 |
Since our last update, we have been contacted by the current owner, Miranda Khadr. There is a local saboteur who wrote anonymously to her, and made some ridiculous claims about our group, even suggesting our preference would be for the pub to be burnt down! Be in no doubt that our prime objective is to retain The Royal Oak, and reopen it as the thriving pub it deserves to be. Thankfully though, this letter did encourage the owner to contact us, and we had a constructive meeting with her to discuss the future of the pub.
The owner has claimed that the people recently occupying The Royal Oak, were there without her knowledge, and that she has now evicted them. In order to maintain the fabric of the building, she is also instructing a contractor to repair the roof, and we have suggested that she arrange for the cellar sump to be cleared, and that the associated bilge pump be restarted.
A number of parties have expressed an interest in re-opening The Royal Oak, effectively confirming its viability. Unfortunately, the unrealistic asking price of circa £1m, along with the work required to restore the property after months of neglect, is deterring potential buyers.
The owner has suggested that we might like to lease the ground floor, cellar, car park and barn, so we have requested that an independent valuation be conducted, and we are reviewing our business plan to assess the most viable option.
Outright purchase as a Community Pub would be the ideal end result, if it were at a realistic price. We have obtained legal advice which confirmed that compulsory purchase is a viable option to achieve this, but we regard this as an option of last resort. Compulsory purchase would require the backing of Mid Sussex District Council. Continued lack of essential maintenance makes that more likely.
| 28/01/2016 |
JANUARY 2016 UPDATE
The Save The Pub Team met again this week. Whilst it may appear that not much has changed, the team have been working hard on our plans to save The Royal Oak.
Since our last update (copied below), we have tried without success, to make further contact with the current owner (Ms Miranda Khadr of 'AMK Property Southampton Ltd'). Whilst it would be useful to have an ongoing dialogue with Ms Khadr, it is not essential to our plans. Nor is it surprising that she doesn’t want to talk with us, following the victorious refusal of planning permission, to change the Royal Oak into a convenience store.
In December we gave a presentation to Worth Parish Council, of the current situation and potential next steps for taking the Royal Oak into Community ownership. This route is not without risk and expense of course, so we have sought respected legal opinion, from a practice who specialise in situations like ours.
In addition, we have been in contact with Mid Sussex District Council, and continue to press their building control department, to ensure that the Royal Oak is not allowed to deteriorate further. It would appear that the Royal Oak may have recently been vacated, and we have concerns around what effect a lack of occupation and heating, may have on the building, especially at a time when pipes are likely to freeze.
We have commenced work on our business plan, which will confirm the viability of the Royal Oak under Community ownership. Once this has been completed, details of the next steps to be taken will be made available.
| 26/11/2015 |
On the 24th September, Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC), voted unanimously to reject the change of use planning application, that would have allowed The Royal Oak to be converted into a convenience store. This rejection followed over 300 letters of objection, proving a huge support for the retention of The Royal Oak as a public house. The link below shows the minutes of that meeting, with the Royal Oak discussion starting on page 3.
Rejection of the change of use planning application has significantly reduced the value of The Royal Oak, from what it would have been worth with permission granted. Whilst the current owner could sell the property now, they are very unlikely to achieve the £1.2m suggested asking price, when the current market value could be as low as £350k, due to the loss of goodwill and deterioration of the fixtures, fittings and building structure. We know that the current owner has already rejected offers over and above the current market value.
One concern is that the current owner may allow The Royal Oak to deteriorate further, whilst they reassess their options. Already, we have worked with MSDC to encourage the current owner to maintain the property to the required standard. We are now approaching MSDC, with a request that they enforce their previous encouragement, to ensure that The Royal Oak is keep in good order whilst we work to ensure its continuation as a public house.
Having explored a number of options, the Save The Royal Oak Team is now looking to engage a professional consultant, who specialises in rescuing local pubs from developers. Our team has submitted a grant application to Worth Parish Council, to assist with this engagement, and help us move forward with our plans.
There is some commercial sensitivity within our plan, that prohibits us from going into detail at this stage. Please be assured however that we continue to work hard on your behalf, to bring The Royal Oak back to the heart of our village.
| 30/09/2015 |
Tonight (30th September) the Save The Pub team were out in force at The Haven Centre, to meet the locals invited to the private focus group, apparently to discuss the future of our village Co Op.
It transpired that just four people had arrived to join the group, and collect their £30.
Although the Co Op had booked a room to host the meeting, the Co Op sent NO REPRESENTATION at all to facilitate their meeting.
Many of the Save The Pub team had submitted applications to attend, but none of the team were invited.
As yet, it's unclear why the Co Op arranged but did not host their meeting. If we are able to establish why this was, we will of course let you know.
| 21/09/2015 |
THIS THURSDAY (24th), Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC) will decide on whether to allow the "Change of Use" for The Royal Oak - from a pub into a convenience store.
The "Save The Pub" Team have contacted all of the Councillors on that Committee to encourage them to accept their Planning Officer’s recommendation to refuse the change of use application.
A representative from our team will deliver a pre-prepared speech to Councillors, within the two minute time slot allowed. It is expected that a representative for the owner (AMK) will do the same in support of the application.
Please join members of the Team in the public gallery at MSDC to show your support for rejecting this change of use application and fighting to save Crawley Down Village's ONLY pub.
The meeting starts at 7pm:
Mid Sussex District Council
West Sussex RH16 1SS
Please remember to be respectful to Councillors and the speakers.
Letter to Councillors View library page
Speech for COU View library page