The Rose Hill Tavern Action Group has overwhelmingly voted to try to raise the £365,000 needed to buy the closed Brighton pub.
Now, the group has finally got its chance to put its money where its mouth is – and has just over five months to raise the necessary cash to put in a bid to buy it.
Representatives from The Bevy and Exeter Street Hall both pledged their support for the project at a packed meeting on Thursday night at Calvary Church in Viaduct Road.
One of the campaign leaders, Dave Boyle, said: “Where we stand now is at a crossroads – we either go forward or we go home.
“If we go forward, we have just five and a half months to come up with the goods.”
He added that the pub didn’t have to be re-opened as just a pub – it could be a community centre, a cafe, an arts venue, or a mixture of anything the group felt would be more useful than flats.
Andrew Large, South East Camra’s campaigns officer, said: “It’s lots of very hard work, and a daunting amount of money to raise, but very rewarding.
“There’s nothing like going into a pub and having your first pint knowing what you have done to get it going.”
And Warren Carter from the Bevy Co-op pub in Bevendean added: “The 200th pint still tastes really good.
“All I see down the London Road is exactly the same kind of venue. What you lot are trying to do is more than a pub.
“It’s the kind of place where if you were there every day of the week and one day you weren’t, people would knock on your door to see if you’re alright.
“You’re going to have to work your b******s off to make it happen.”
But Iain Chambers from Exeter Street Hall, run by residents who bought it from the church in 2011, said: “However daunting it feels, you have almost got nothing to lose.
“It’s closed down anyway, if you believe in it, it’s worth giving it a shot.”
And he also offered practical support, saying the hall would be happy to put on a fundraising event for the group.
A couple of voices of dissent came from neighbours of the pub, who said they feared it reopening as it had been a hotspot for trouble in the past.
One, Marion Hamer, told how one drunken brawl ended with a man falling over her railings in the middle of the night.
She said: “I live two doors away and it’s been so lovely and peaceful since the pub closed. If a pub comes back, I shall be moving.”
However, after the meeting she conceded that in the past the pub had been well run and caused no trouble.
The pub’s status as an asset of community value means that if it goes on the market, the community is given six months to raise the money to bid to buy it. It must register its intention to do so with the council by May 14.
A planning meeting will be held tomorrow at 8pm at Emporium to put a battle plan together.
Brighton and Hove City Council has told the group it can apply for a small grant to set up its fundraising campaign.
And funding may be available from other bodies, such as the National Lottery’s Power to Change project which gives grants of up to £500,000 to community businesses.
The £365,000 price tag is £1,000 less than Evenden Estates paid Enterprise Inns when it was sold.
If the group fails to raise the money, then any future planning application to turn it into housing will be likely to succeed.
The Rose Hill Tavern is one of several Brighton pubs Enterprise Inns has sold in the past couple of years.
The London Unity has been turned into housing and plans to turn the Albion Inn into a family home were approved last month.
However, the Horse and Groom in Islingword Road has also been listed as an asset of community value, halting building work while new owner Craig Dwyer-Smith appeals.
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