The Skeeby Community Pub Society want to bring The Traveller's Rest in their village near Richmond back to life as a multi-use hub with cafe, book exchange, parcel collection point and meeting space 12 years after it closed.
The building is owned by a developer who failed to get planning permission to convert it into housing, and he is no longer allowed to change its use, meaning that there is now widespread support for a takeover by a community group who would need to raise the funds to purchase and renovate it before finding a tenant to run the business.
The group launched their appeal last September, and have now collected £160,000 in 'pledges' from over 100 investors.
There have been other attempts to raise the necessary capital since 2008, but this is the most successful campaign so far and has attracted support from several businesses from both the local area and further afield.
One of the backers is Richie Bland Energy, developers of a solar farm in Skeeby, who have given the group £2,000 to assist with running costs.
An online survey aimed at residents found that most wanted the pub to be a 'heart' for the village with space for social gatherings and cultural activities.
Richmondshire Council have also offered funding grants and are hoping to broker an agreement between the pub's current owner and the SCPS to end the deadlock over the building's future.
The council's corporate director Callum McKeon said: “It is clear from the recent engagement work undertaken by SCPS that there is considerable community support for this project and the council is keen to see this local asset brought back into community use. We would like to see an agreement reached between SCPS and the owners of the property to allow this worthwhile community project to be delivered, and we will assist in any way that we can to make this happen.”
Richard Wright, who has chaired the group for the past decade, has also stood down and been replaced by committee member Carol Wilkinson.
Mrs Wilkinson said: “I'd like to thank Richard for his huge contribution to SCPS; I know stepping down has been a difficult decision for him. However, it's a decision that's been made easier by the strength of the team that now exists to take us forward. I certainly couldn't have been persuaded to take up the reins without the support of the board. It is a real credit to the whole team that he feels able to leave things in our care and ‘go fishing’!”
The Society aims to raise a total of £300,000 from members and grant funding to get the pub open. Members are asked to invest a minimum of £250, and each member will have an equal say in the enterprise. For more information, or to make a pledge, visit www.travellersrestskeeby.co.uk or email [email protected]