Applause greeted councillors’ decision to approve compulsory purchase of a pub which it is envisaged will provide a vital social centre in a Calderdale village.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet agreed to the council using powers under section 226 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to make a Compulsorily Purchase Order to acquire the Holywell Inn at Holywell Green.
They also authorised the council’s Director of Regeneration and Strategy, Mark Thompson, to negotiate to enter into a back-to-back agreement to transfer the freehold ownership of the inn to Holywell Community Pub Ltd so that it may be used as a community pub and wider social hub for the village.
Councillors heard negotiations between the group, which had support from the Plunkett Foundation and had a national profile, and the owner of the building had reached an impasse.
In March the Cabinet agreed to grant a long term loan of £85,000 and a short term loan of £20,000 to supplement funding of £20,000 already available to HCPL to buy the property.
The report to councillors also outlined that the owner can object to the CPO and have their objections considered at a public hearing which would result in a further valuation of the site and further costs incurred by the council.
Cabinet member for Regeneration and Economic Strategy, Coun Barry Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) said it was a courageous decision for Cabinet to make as it involved committing finance but the project met the council’s aims.
“The whole council recognises the strength and commitment of the group and all the work gone into the scheme.
“In community benefit terms it seems to be one we would support and we wish it every success,” he said.
Coun Susan Press (Lab, Todmorden), Cabinet member for Communities and Neighbourhood Services, said the project’s tackling of social isolation was very important, particularly in an area with many older people, like Holywell Green.
She also recognised key support from the foundation and the hard work which had been put in.
Coun Chris Pearson (Con, Greetland and Stainland) spoke in favour of the scheme and said closures of other hostelries in the area strengthened the case for a project that would be more than a pub, also fulfilling the role of a much-needed social hub.
“Young and old, it offers something for everybody. The group has a national profile and reputation. It would be fantastic not just for my area but for Calderdale,” he said.
“They have been frustrated but their desire to get it open as a community space for Holywell Green burns as brightly as it’s ever done.”
Holywell Community Pub Ltd chairman John Walsh told councillors the idea was hatched six years ago to reduce social isolation in the village.
“This isn’t about a pub – it’s about a community,” he said.
In addition to details of a business plan, councillors were also told the community group had secured £100,000 from the Plunkett Foundation’s More Than A Pub programme towards the project, but this could not be used towards purchase costs.
But it indicated the national foundation was confident in backing the group, which had a community share scheme which was bringing in £700 per month and once ownership was secured was likely to attract more social investing, councillors heard.