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Success after 12-year battle to save North Yorkshire pub

Residents in a North Yorkshire village are toasting success after a 12-year battle to save their local pub.

The once thriving village pub, which has been closed for more than a decade, will finally open its doors again after the community successfully purchased the premises following years of failed negotiations.

The Travellers Rest in Skeeby, near Richmond, called time in 2008 and has stood empty ever since, following a planning battle involving its owner and Richmondshire District Council over its conversion into housing.

The Skeeby Community Pub Society (SCPS) was formed to fight the change of use planning application and gather support for the purchase and renovation of the Travellers Rest as a village pub and community hub – run for the benefit of the residents of Skeeby and visitors to the area.

On January 17, 2022, the group’s perseverance paid off as they were handed the keys to the building after the sale was completed by leading North East law firm Muckle LLP.

Under the ownership of the community the Travellers Rest will be remodelled and fully fitted out ahead of its much-awaited reopening. Once open the pub will sell ales from local brewers, good quality food using local suppliers where possible and provide a venue for traditional pub sports and games, community events and celebrations, music, and culture.

The group was permitted access for surveys in the run up to the completion of the sale which has allowed it to progress refurbishment plans. Structural and condition surveys have been carried out, along with plans for heating, plumbing, furniture, kitchen, electrical and compliance works. The group is now looking to source repurposed and bespoke fixtures and fittings for the pub, along with recruiting local tradespeople to carry out the works.

The SCPS now own the land and buildings and are looking to agree a lease with a tenant to run the licensed business.

To date, the group has sold over £200,000 of shares to over 160 people, mostly locals including Richmondshire MP and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, but also from as far away as Quebec, Canada, Sydney, Australia and California, USA. The group has also benefited from Richmondshire District Council’s Community Investment Fund.

Shares are still available to purchase as it’s expected that a further £60 000 will be required to complete the refurbishment works.

Carol Wilkinson, Chair of the SCPS said: “It has been a long and challenging process but finally we have completed the purchase of The Travellers Rest. This is a momentous day and one that would have not been possible without the help and support of an enormous number of people.

“Heartfelt thanks go to our legal team at Muckle LLP for their perseverance, The Plunkett Foundation, for their advice and guidance, Richmondshire District Council for having the confidence to award us a CIF grant and of course our shareholders and supporters whose patience and faith has been astounding.

“Support has been incredible; 12 years is a long time to keep a dream alive and without the hard work and dogged determination of the entire committee, past and present we would not have triumphed. Because it became increasingly important to secure the property at the earliest opportunity, we do still need to raise the rest of the funds required to complete the refurbishment however we are now in a position to pursue additional grant funding and are confident that this brilliant news will help reignite shareholder interest. Now the really hard work of bringing it back to life can begin!”

Giles McCourt, Associate Solicitor in the real estate team at Muckle LLP, said: “We are thrilled to have completed this purchase despite the number of challenges along the way. It’s wonderful to support a project that is so important to the community of Skeeby, and we can’t wait to see how the project progresses over the coming years.”

The Skeeby Community Pub Society will be holding a public meeting on Sunday 20th February which anyone is welcome to join. If you would like to receive details of the meeting, further information regarding the project or to buy shares, visit the website at www.thetravellersrestskeeby.co.uk.

By admin