Yorkshire community looking to buy and reopen 'cherished' local pub

A community in West Yorkshire is preparing a bid to take over a “cherished” 19th century pub.

The Manor House in Otley is being sold by Thwaites Brewery, but a group of locals have until November to  set up a community interest company, prepare a bid and raise funds.
The Manor House in Otley is being sold by Thwaites Brewery, but a group of locals have until November to set up a community interest company, prepare a bid and raise funds.

The Manor House in Otley is being sold by Thwaites Brewery, but a group of locals have until November to set up a community interest company, prepare a bid and raise funds.

The locals, who have formed the Otley Community Pub group, said they will look to buy the popular pub if no one else is prepared to take it on.

The group, which will hold a meeting on Friday, said they want the pub to reopen as soon as possible, after Thwaites’ tenants David and Eileen Stefan left in July.

Lisa Herries, from the Otley Community Pub group, said: “The Manor House is a cherished Otley pub and we believe that there is a real opportunity for a community bid to create Otley’s first community-owned pub.

“Towns such as Hebden Bridge and Sowerby Bridge have shown that community-owned pubs work really well in towns and fit in really well alongside other pubs, offering something both different and also unique with the community actually owning the pub.”

“We hope that anyone interested in being part of a community bid will come along to Otley Rugby Club on Friday, August 12 at 7.30pm.”

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Rob Skinner, Chair of Otley Pub Club said The Manor House is “an iconic Otley pub” and it was “successful and popular” before the Covid-19 pandemic. “Under the right ownership, it can be successful and popular again,” he said.

“It makes sense to explore the possibility of a community buy out, as happened with the Black Horse, with that then becoming a very successful Kirkstall Brewery pub.”

He also asked other potential buyers to get in touch with Otley Pub Club, adding: “What matters is that the famous Manor House remains as a pub with its unique offer, history and heritage”.

Otley Community Pub Group has been working with the The Plunkett Foundation, a charity which offers advice and support to groups seeking to buy and establish community pubs.

Under the rules, community groups who want to buy local pubs must ask the council to list it as an Asset of Community Value. The community group must then apply for a six-month moratorium, which prevents the owner from selling the owner while they prepare a bid.

However, at the end of that period the owner is free to sell the building to whoever they wish and at any price. Otley Community Pub Group has successfully applied for a six-month moratorium, which is due to expire on November 13.