Judge upholds historic pub’s community asset protection status

A court has upheld an historic village pub’s status as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) after it was challenged for a second time by the owners.

Wednesday, 27th January 2021, 12:14 pm
Updated Friday, 29th January 2021, 11:40 am
The Black Horse at Grimston EMN-210127-120312001
The Black Horse at Grimston EMN-210127-120312001

Melton Borough Council granted the ACV to the 400-year-old Black Horse, at Grimston, in April last year and it dismissed an appeal against it two months later.

The Wakefield family, who have owned the Main Street pub since June 2017, took their case to a First-tier Tribunal of the General Regulatory Chamber but Judge J Findlay found that the ACV should remain.

The owners had a controversial planning application to convert part of the property and an outbuilding into housing and retaining a smaller footprint as a pub refused by the borough council’s planning committee last July, with the community value status cited as a major reason.

Villagers from the area have banded together as The Black Horse Community Group to protect the pub and campaign to get it reopened - it has been closed for a year with the owners saying it was no longer viable because a lack of local support and due to the impact of the pandemic.

Following the outcome of the latest legal challenge to the ACV, Mike Petty, chair of the group, said: “We are delighted that the tribunal has recognised the value of The Black Horse pub as a community facility and the correctness of the registration as an ACV in the first place to protect both the pub trading area and the upstairs accommodation required for a publican.

“We look forward to the pub reopening soon.”

Dismissing the appeal against the ACV, Judge Findlay stated in his written report: “In reaching my decision I have attached weight to the considerable support of the local community as demonstrated by the testimonials.

“I am satisfied that there is strong community spirit and enthusiasm to find a community use for the property.

“Although there would be difficulties and obstacles I find that the intention to purchase the property and recommence trading could be realistically achieved with sufficient community effort and support in the next five years.

“A new enterprise under new management taking into account the available market could realistically be expected to satisfy the statutory test.”

The campaign group, which has made an offer for the community purchase of The Black Horse, believe the presence of the ACV demonstrates the importance of the pub to local people.

Grimston, Saxelbye and Shoby and Parish Council made the initial ACV application after campaigning villagers had gathered letters of support for it.

Melton Borough Council leader, Joe Orson, commented: “We are pleased that the Judge upheld the council’s decision and dismissed the appeal.

“We understand the importance of this historic property to the local community.”

Councillor Ronan Browne, who represents the Frisby on the Wreake Ward which also covers Grimston, added “Over the past 12 months, we have worked together as a community to assess the various options that could ensure The Black Horse, which is an integral part of the Grimston, Saxelbye and Shoby parish, remains a place in which the community can gather.

“This decision adds great weight as to the importance of having a pub in the parish and hopefully it won’t be long before it is opened again, welcoming local residents and visitors from afar to socialise together once again.”