NEWNHAM locals have joined forces to stop the redevelopment of the village’s vacant pub.
The Old House at Home has been closed since January 2015. The new owners, Red Oak Taverns, recently applied to Basingstoke Deane Borough council for a change of use to residential property.
But Newnham Parish Council has launched a petition in protest at the proposal. It has attracted over 1,200 signatures in a month.
Councillor June James is the driving force behind the petition on Change.org. She fears the village will lose its soul if the district council approves the pub’s change of use. Shops nearby and the post office have already closed.
The petition claims: “We know that the pub has been successful in the past and can be again.
“The village is ready to buy it and re-open it as a great local pub with good food, beers and wines. Please help us to keep our pub.”
The campaign has gained political support. Maria Miller, a Basingstoke MP, posted on social media site Twitter: “Show your support for our community and sign up to save one of Basingstoke’s lovely village pubs.”
And the Campaign for Real Ale has weighed in too. Speaking to the Hook Herald, Mike Hodson, chairman of the local branch, said: “Community pubs such as the Old House at Home in Newnham are an essential part of the social fabric of a village, where people can meet, socialise, organise events, arrange sports teams, and enjoy their leisure time.
“In addition, they provide much-needed employment and stimulate the local economy through food suppliers and local breweries.
“Far too many pubs are closing these days due to a local planning system that seems to be more geared to property development than the needs of a local community.
“The fantastic numbers of local people expressing support for this wonderful traditional pub show just how important it is to the local area."
The campaign group just launched a new initiative to protect 3,000 pubs from demolition or conversion to other uses. The latest figures show 29 pubs are being lost every week across the country.
CAMRA wants members to nominate their local pub as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). That’s because pubs can be converted to other uses without planning permission unless they have ACV status. It provides planning protection under new laws introduced this April.
With over 1,211 supporters, the petition to save the Old House At Home needs 289 more signatures to hit the target of 1,500.
The deadline for submission was initially set for May 18, but the parish council has extended the standard consultation deadline to Monday, June 13. That leaves just ten days for more supporters to sign up.
The council said they have had numerous messages of goodwill from other local pubs in the surrounding area. And to ensure the case for retaining the pub is as strong as possible, councillors have joined the Pub Community Steering Group – which has led the way so far – and brought in specialist consultants.
Peter James, who lives in Newnham, commented under the petition: “It’s vital to keep our pub as the heart of the local community. To allow developers to take this away from our community is unthinkable.”
Another villager, Clive Pinder, said: “This pub has been very successful and plays a major role in making Newnham and the surrounding areas a great place to live. The developers have no interest in the community – only optimising their profits.”
The Newnham parish council’s petition is at change.org/p/newnham-parish-council-save-our-village-pub.