A campaign has been launched to save the Horse and Groom from closure after Enterprise Inns put it on the market.
Last month, a For Let sign appeared on the Islingword Road pub – famous locally for having allegedly had a severed head left on the bar in the 1970s – advertising the lease for sale.
Enterprise has now taken it down and says it is considering its options – but, regulars fear the pub company may be planning to offload yet another of its Brighton neighbourhood pubs.
They are now following the Rose Hill Tavern Action Group’s lead and moving to petition the council and get it listed as an asset of community value to hinder any sale.
Campaigner Ronnie Daye said: “We fear Enterprise are trying to rush the sale through before new legislation comes through requiring full planning permission for the conversion of any property designated an asset of community.
“We all know that some pubs close because they are badly run, or in a bad position, but it’s not right when things are done in a sneaky fashion.
“We’re trying to find business people who are willing to put money up for the pub’s future – but we can’t get a straight answer from Enterprise.”
A spokesperson from Enterprise said: “We are currently reviewing options for the Horse and Groom following the current publican giving us notice that he wishes to terminate his lease on the pub.”
To get a building listed as an asset of community value, residents must petition the council and successfully persuade them to add it to its local list.
In Brighton and Hove, only the Saltdean Lido and the Rose Hill Tavern have been listed.
This means that if the asset goes on sale, the community have six months to raise money and put a bid to the current owners.
The lido was bought by the Saltdean Lido Community Interest Community, who last week received £2.3million from the government’s Coastal Development Fund.
However, the Rose Hill Tavern was sold by Enterprise before it was listed. Its new owners have submitted an application to turn it into two flats, and the listing will have no bearing on the planning process.
However, this will change should the new legislation come into effect.
Enterprise Inns have sold several off their Brighton pubs in recent months. As well as the Rose Hill Tavern, it has also sold the London Unity, also in Islingword Road, and the Albion Inn on Albion Hill.