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‘Less than £20,000 to go’ – Share scheme extended to save fire-damaged Suffolk pub

PUBLISHED: 13:10 28 June 2018 | UPDATED: 13:10 28 June 2018

Wickham Market villagers at the launch of the George community share scheme Picture: GEORGE HERING

Wickham Market villagers at the launch of the George community share scheme Picture: GEORGE HERING

Archant

A community share scheme which launched to save a fire-damaged Suffolk pub, has been extended – after more than £80,000 was raised in six weeks.

The George, Wickham Market which was destroyed by fire in 2013 Picture: THE GEORGE COMMUNITY PUB GROUPThe George, Wickham Market which was destroyed by fire in 2013 Picture: THE GEORGE COMMUNITY PUB GROUP

The George Community Pub team in Wickham Market has given supporters more time to reach the £100,000 target after narrowly missing out on achieving it before the original deadline.

The scheme was launched on May 12 as part of plans to revive the village’s only pub, which was devastated by fire five years ago.

Project leaders appealed last week for villagers and “super-backers” to buy shares and take it over the finishing line.

Despite an average of more than 50 applications a day, the share scheme ended around £18,000 short of the target.

After a meeting on Wednesday night, the team has decided to extend the deadline until the end of July, while reminding villagers to ensure they do their bit by buying one or more shares.

Group chairman Colin Owens said: “We have support from a number of organisations including the parish, district and county councils, and to date we have applications for £82,000, so we are nearly there and just need another £18,000 to take us over the line and buy the building.

“To do this we have extended the share offer window until the end of July. If anyone hasn’t invested yet but wish to, now is the time. If they have already invested and wish to buy more shares, now is the time.”

The team of volunteers has been working on plans to save the historic Grade II listed pub since August 2016, with the aim to make a “pub which the village would be proud to own and use”.

Since then, the teams has spent more than 3,000 volunteer hours developing the proposals, including the creation of a social enterprise company, a feasibility study and business plans, as well as consultation with the community and architects.

A pre-planning application is reported to have been met with a “positive result” and the group has successfully negotiated an option to buy the pub’s freehold.

If and when the share scheme reaches its £100,000 target, the group will be able to buy the pub and begin work renovating the medieval building. The share scheme will bring match funding and is also hoped to attract other grant giving organisations.

Visit wmgeorge.co.uk to download an application form or find out more about the project.

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