Community rally to stop St Albans pub from going derelict
PUBLISHED: 06:03 10 August 2015 | UPDATED: 06:22 10 August 2015
Community-minded locals are hoping to prevent a pub being mothballed for years before the district council goes ahead with a housing scheme.
Cottonmill Community Group has been set up by 10 regulars at the King Offa pub in Wallingford Walk, St Albans, which is owned by the district council and is due to close later this month.
The plan is to demolish the building and replace it with affordable housing but by the council’s own admission, that is unlikely to happen for a couple of years.
The community group is pitching the idea to the council that the building could be used for events such as coffee mornings, toddler groups and similar activities rather than standing empty for years before redevelopment.
It has contacted the council with a business pub for the plan and has been asked to provide more financial details.
Spokesman Chris Gilroy said: “It is going to be closed and what we are worried about as a community is that the council shut it and don’t provide anything for the community to use in the future.
“What we hope to do is to expand the links between the community regardless of age and ethnicity.”
To that end, they are posting flyers to every house in the Sopwell area asking for input and any skills that might be useful.
The idea is that the King Offa’s use as a community hub would be self-supporting and would raise money by charging for use and possibly renting out rooms above the pub. It is the only licensed premises in the area.
Chris admitted that the pub had once had a bad reputation but that was in the past and the group wanted to raise its profile in the period while it is standing empty.
He said: “The premises may be dilapidated and falling down but there is a real sense of community.
“We accept it may well go but in the intervening period, we want to prove to the council that there is a requirement for community facilities.”
In June the council invited ideas for the temporary use of the King Offa so it remained viable once the pub was closed. The council is looking at using a flat above the pub as temporary homeless accommodation and making the building available for use by either a business or community project on a temporary basis.
Anyone who would like to become involved with Cottonmill Community Group should contact Chris on 07717 295546 or email him on firstname.lastname@example.org
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