Staffordshire’s first co-operative pub buyout is underway at the Royal Oak in Rushton Spencer, near Macclesfield. More than 50 people attended a community share offer launch at the pub on 22 October.
The aim is to raise around £280,000 to buy, refurbish and reopen the pub, which is up for sale. Local people have set up a community benefit society, The Rushton Oak Community Pub Ltd, and registered the pub as an asset of community value.
With support from the local community, Rushton Spencer Parish Council, Co-operative and Mutual Solutions and the Plunkett Foundation, the co-op has developed a business plan and entered negotiations with the Royal Oak’s owners, Marston’s brewery.
“We were concerned that the Royal Oak has had declining fortunes over the last few years,” said co-op co-founder John Pears. “We want the Royal Oak to become the focal life of Rushton Spencer and the surrounding villages, being used by a range of different people and groups for a range of purposes. This in turn should stimulate more business and visitors to the area.”
The co-op aims to buy the pub and open it as soon as possible, after critical refurbishments. It will be a free house serving locally sourced food and real ales, and its usage will broaden over time, based upon the needs of the community.
Suggestions include a coffee internet bar, meeting rooms for local groups and businesses, farmers markets, venues for visiting post office, pharmacy or other health service providers and refurbishment of parts of the upstairs to provide bed and breakfast facilities.
“There are a relatively large number of home-workers in the community,” says Mr Pears. “There’s also a local microbrewery looking for additional outlets for its beers. However, there’s no shop, café or other meeting space open in the mornings, no Post Office or NHS facilities.
“It’s believed that with community ownership and the support of the community, a tenant can be found who would share our aims and have a financial interest in developing the business for the long term. This would bring the Royal Oak back to its former glory.”
For details of the share offer, visit www.rushtonoak.co.uk.
- The pub has now raised enough funds to allow the purchase to proceed, but has decided to extend the share offer for a further 3 weeks, to raise additional funds to cover initial basic refurbishment costs, and reduce the need for loans. The share offer will now close on 13 December 2014.