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Share scheme will seek £300k to save fire damaged Suffolk pub

PUBLISHED: 13:16 15 February 2018 | UPDATED: 14:21 15 February 2018

Villagers hope to save The George in Wickham Market, which was damaged in a fire in 2013. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Villagers hope to save The George in Wickham Market, which was damaged in a fire in 2013. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Archant

The team trying to save a Suffolk village’s fire ravaged pub have concluded it can be done – but will cost £1.6m and take up to three years.

Wickham Market villagers attend a meeting about The George.  Picture: GEORGE HERINGWickham Market villagers attend a meeting about The George. Picture: GEORGE HERING

The George Community Pub Group, which was set up by villagers in Wickham Market to takeover the historic inn, held a recent meeting to update residents and invite people to buy shares .

Nearly five years have passed since a fire left the building in tatters – and ever since the future of the pub has been uncertain.

Community efforts were stepped last year up after its latest owner announced plans to demolish and replace the grade II listed, which were rejected by Suffolk Coastal planners.

Since then, a committee has been looking at various options for the pub and meeting with groups such as the Plunkett Foundation, as well as Suffolk groups involved in The Sorrel Horse in Shottisham, the Case is Altered in Bentley and the Duke of Marlborough in Somersham.

Suffolk County Council councillor Alexander Nicoll talks the the audience at the meeting on The George in Wickham Market. Picture: GEORGE HERINGSuffolk County Council councillor Alexander Nicoll talks the the audience at the meeting on The George in Wickham Market. Picture: GEORGE HERING

During the recent meeting, chairman Colin Owens gave a presentation and introduced “special guests”, Alexander Nicoll, who represents Wickham Market at Suffolk County Council, and former BBC Radio Suffolk presenter Terry Baxter, both of whom support community pubs.

The meeting heard the pub could be bought for £40,000 with total project costs estimated at £1.6m. However, the community’s portion of that target would be only £300,000, with the remaining £1.3m expected to be raised through grants.

George Hering, who is part of the group, said after the meeting: “The whole process will take around two to three years before the doors open once again at the George. The conclusion was very clear that the George could be bought, restored and made into a viable business once again.”

Mr Nicoll thanked the committee for its work and wished the team success, saying he would “definitely be a future shareholder”.

Mr Baxter led a question and answer session, and asked villagers whether they wanted to see a pub in Wickham Market again.

“Overwhelmingly, the answer was yes,” Mr Hering added.

Details on the feasibility study will be available at the group’s website. The Community Share scheme will launch on March 16. People can email The George Community Pub Group for details.

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