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6 months to save Three Horseshoes at Turves near Whittlesey from closure

A residents’ association is hoping to buy 3 Horseshoes at Turves

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A 6-month reprieve to stop a village pub near Whittlesey from being demolished and houses built there is now likely after a community group was given a window of opportunity to buy it and keep it open. Fenland District Council has listed the Three Horseshoes at Turves as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) which means, in effect, a local residents’ group has 6 months to find the money to buy it.

Theoretically the planning committee of Fenland District Council could approve demolition in the meantime but their senior development officer, Danielle Brooke, has warned the owners it would, at this time, be refused permission.

“I understand that the 6-month full moratorium period has been triggered with respect to the ACV designation, as the Turves and District Residents’ Association have notified FDC that they intend to attempt to raise the funds to bid for the pub,” Ms Brooke told the agents for the owners, Tim, and Mel Fletcher.

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“This means that the current owner is able to continue to market the pub on the open market and negotiate sales but cannot exchange contracts during this 6-month period from any other bidder.

“Planning applications can progress during this time; however, officers would give weight to the ACV status of the pub as a material consideration given the proposed demolition of the pub to facilitate residential development.”

She added: “As such, it is likely that the application would be recommended for refusal on this basis.”

Ms Brooke has suggested to the Fletchers’ agent, Morton and Hall Consulting Ltd, that if they “would prefer the application to progress (likely recommended for refusal but determined by the planning committee at the meeting of 26th June) or if they wish to withdraw the application to allow the ACV process to finalise?”

The agents are yet to reply but it does offer the recently formed Turves and District Residents’ Association (TDRA), time to get their act together and buy the pub.

Turves and District Residents Association (TDRA), aims to keep the Three Horseshoes open. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Turves and District Residents Association (TDRA), aims to keep the Three Horseshoes open. PHOTO: Terry Harris

It looks likely to be an acrimonious few months ahead.

And there are hurdles to overcome, not least proving they can reach stage one of the process and that is to convince Fenland Council of their intent.

The council acceptance of it being an ACV also includes provision that the residents’ association have until June 10 to show they are serious: if the council agrees they are then a provisional moratorium to halt the sale/planning processes will have been met.

The council says that until June 10 any community interest group may request in writing can be “treated as a potential bidder for the asset.

“Should such an application be received (which complies with the legislative requirements) the full moratorium period specified by the legislation will expire on the 29th of October 2024”.

The residents’ association is headed by Stephen Goldspink, who represents around 30 people who want to stop The Three Horseshoes pub on March Road from being demolished.

It’s not an easy task.

The council has explained to him that that:

1: The owner wishes to sell the pub, and it’s their right to set an asking price. However, the TDRA should submit a formal offer based on their own valuation.

2: The council’s role in the ACV is to list qualifying assets and trigger the moratorium period, when notified of the intention to sell from the owner. Negotiating the sale price is between the TDRA and the owner

3: The Fletchers have the valuation report and the TDRA should request this information from them, reiterating the need for funding purposes “which will aid a smoother selling process”.

 4: While the asking price is £350,000, the TDRA would be able to submit a different offer based on their own assessment.

5: Compulsory purchase is not likely. This is “typically used” for properties likely to remain empty with no likelihood of use over a long period of time alongside other factors like ASB and environmental impact. “With these premises it appears the owner is exploring options for the pub”.

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6: The council’s role is to list qualifying assets and manage the moratorium period. It cannot write to the owner on the TDRA’s behalf.

Mr Goldspink, in correspondence with Fenland Council, says the owner’s sales terms “means it is unlikely that anyone will ever be able to buy it. Therefore, the TDRA does not accept that the owner’s offer is genuine”.

He says one of the association’s ‘researchers’ wrote in her private capacity to DaveyCo (handling the pub’s sale) to ask for full sales particulars for the Three Horseshoes listing in Cambridgeshire.

A recent move to keep the Three Horseshoes at Turves near Whittlesey from being demolished and replaced with housing has come from the newly formed Turves and District Residents Association (TDRA).

A recent move to keep the Three Horseshoes at Turves near Whittlesey from being demolished and replaced with housing has come from the newly formed Turves and District Residents Association (TDRA).

She also asked for copies of 3 years’ trading accounts and a copy of the valuation report which led to their guide price of £350,000.

“She had no response at all,” says Mr Goldspink. “We need the pub’s valuation report to validate the £350,000 valuation and the precise boundaries of the property included.”

He says that given how long the owner says the pub has been on the market, “we suspect the whole property was included in the sale package, including the area on which planning permission has been granted.

“The planning permission for the two properties was not mentioned in the brief sales particulars that we can access, which implies the price is for the whole site. If that is the case, to demand that their full valuation of £350,000 is met is not reasonable”.

He also adds: “We know the property has deteriorated in the last three years and if that is the case, to demand £350,000 today is not realistic or reasonable.

“We believe equipment has been removed from the premises in the last 18 months and, if that is the case, the valuation of £350,000 should be less.”

A recent move to keep the Three Horseshoes at Turves near Whittlesey from being demolished and replaced with housing has come from the newly formed Turves and District Residents Association (TDRA).

A recent move to keep the Three Horseshoes at Turves near Whittlesey from being demolished and replaced with housing has come from the newly formed Turves and District Residents Association (TDRA).

Mr Goldspink says talks with the owner’s son have not produced a realistic fund-raising target for his association to meet.

He added: “The owners and their friends seem to be there every night at the moment removing items from the building.

“The insincerity, hypocrisy and deceit is astounding, and I hope the council will see the owner’s correspondence for what it is – a bogus and deceitful offer designed to be impossible to meet, so that the owners can try and proceed with demolition of the pub after purportedly having ‘tried to sell’ and failed.”

Mr Goldspink said: “The council has indicated that it understands the value of the Three Horseshoes site to the Turves community. We now need robust and immediate support from the council to give us a genuine and achievable opportunity to purchase the premises.

“If Timothy and Daniel Fletcher agree to the pub being sold for its current value (to be determined by reference to a Plunkett Foundation approved valuer/surveyor), then we can crack on with our proposed right to bid, funding arrangements and expedite arrangements for a professional valuation and building survey of the premises.”

Turves and District Residents Association (TDRA), aims to keep the Three Horseshoes open. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Turves and District Residents Association (TDRA), aims to keep the Three Horseshoes open. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Mr Goldspink said his association had opened a bank account “and submitted our grant application for initial funding so I can now officially request that the Turves and District Residents Association be treated as a potential bidder for the Asset of Community Value, namely The Three Horseshoes Public House, Turves”.

 

 

 

 

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