The new owners had purchased the pub with the intention of converting it into two semi-detached residences.
The power of community is extremely powerful and can make impossible things happen. The people of Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, in the U.K., are celebrating the reopening of a local pub after almost 10 years and it all became possible due to collective efforts. The pub, named The Rising Sun, was under threat of being converted into new homes by property developers. However, the locals fundraised £500,000 (approximately $575,000) over a decade to save their beloved pub, reports Good News Network.
The bar closed in October 2011 and Worthy Developments Ltd. bought it in 2012. Lynne Fletcher, who lived about 60 yards away from the bar at the time of its closure, said the real estate agents indicated it was being sold as a pub, so the neighborhood wasn't concerned at first, reported Gloucestershire Live. Fletcher said, "The first indication something was wrong was when a neighbor asked a workman how long before it would be before it re-opened again. He told him ‘It’ll never open as a pub again mate.' "
Residents began fighting planning applications and appeals and in 2013, the Forest of Dean District Council designated The Rising Sun as a community asset. The new owners, who had purchased the pub with the intention of converting it into two semi-detached residences, consented to sell it to the Save Our Sun group at the end of last year. The community raised nearly £300,000 (approximately $345,000) via fundraising activities and sold shares for £100 ($115) apiece, with a government grant of £175,000 (approximately $201,000) topping it off so they could buy the pub earlier this year.
The community organization, Save Our Sun, worked diligently with fundraisers and activities to acquire it before embarking on marathon refurbishment work themselves since it had lain unused and in disrepair for a decade. The pub has been revived as both a drinking establishment and a community center. Michelle Hayes, chair of Save Our Sun said, "This is a testament, not only to the hard work of the committee and community who have come together to help with renovations."
"They had belief in this project and are supporting the pub, making it something really special now it is open as a vital community hub." The locals have already celebrated the success of their efforts with an open mic night at the bar. Fletcher said, "It was a great little pub and it’s where everybody got to know each other. It had a lovely atmosphere and was really friendly. A real neighborhood pub." Hayes also explained, "The pub will also be a community hub for volunteer groups, such as collecting the isolated and elderly for coffee mornings, parent and toddler groups, and job skills and clubs. We also have a community room upstairs."
Moreover. Fletcher that it would have never been possible without Hayes and her dedication and patience toward the project. She said, "It's been a long fight and to be honest there were times we probably would have given up without Michelle, but she doggedly stuck at it. She's been incredible and so have all the volunteers who either bought shares, helped do all the work, or donated stuff." She further said that their village is a place where people just drive through but the presence of this pub will make the place feel "warm and inviting."