Historic country pub goes up for sale

PUBLISHED: 09:17 15 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:54 06 May 2010

Fears that The Old Fox could cease to be a pub

Fears that The Old Fox could cease to be a pub

AN HISTORIC country pub has gone up for sale leaving its future hanging in the balance. The Old Fox at the end of School Lane in Bricket Wood is being sold on the open market by its owners – pub company Punch Taverns. In June of last year, the Herts Adve

AN HISTORIC country pub has gone up for sale leaving its future hanging in the balance.

The Old Fox at the end of School Lane in Bricket Wood is being sold on the open market by its owners - pub company Punch Taverns.

In June of last year, the Herts Advertiser highlighted the efforts of Gary and Sandra Higginbotham as they struggled to keep the pub afloat.

The couple maintained that it was impossible to meet the £3,000 monthly rent charged by Punch Taverns with the limited amount of trade they turned over.

Despite Gary maintaining his full-time job elsewhere while Sandra and their daughter ran the pub, they fell behind with the rent payments and were evicted in August.

Although a temporary landlady was put in to keep the pub open, a permanent tenant never took over and the pub went up for sale last week.

It comes weeks after the Old Red Lion in Frogmore, also a Punch Taverns pub, was put up for sale and follows in the footsteps of The Swan pub which was sold by brewery Fullers last year. A planning inquiry is set to decide if developers can convert it into houses.

Agents Warren Drake are managing the sale of the Old Fox, for which offers are invited in the region of £400,000. It is advertised as having the potential for a change of use.

Parish councillor and School Lane resident, David Brannen, said he was devastated that the Old Fox might cease to be a pub when it was sold.

He said: "It has got the potential to be a lovely country pub which does food - and it must stay as a pub. The concern of the people down the lane is that is stays as a pub as it is central to the small community."

He continued: "It's a shame that Punch Taverns didn't realise how over-priced the rent was when Gary and Sandra had the pub. They worked so hard and if they had been charged a reasonable rent they would have been able to make a go of it. It also needed investment in the kitchen to make it a viable food pub."

Cllr Brannen added: "We have lost the Old Red Lion and The Swan in the St Stephen parish over the past year and I hope that we don't lose another historic pub."

Punch Taverns always maintained that they offered Gary and Sandra extensive support and said all rents were based on a "fair maintainable trade".

A spokesperson for the company said this week: "It is always our priority to keep our pubs trading as pubs. However we do review our estate to ensure our sites are maximising their potential. Following a recent review we can now confirm that the Old Fox is for sale on the open market."

Potential buyers are asked to call agents Warren Drake on 0207 495 7500.

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