On Saturday, The Weald Inn in Royal George Road, Burgess Hill, closed its doors to the public – leaving regulars devastated.
Greene King, which owned the pub, said it had made the ‘difficult decision that it was no longer a viable long-term prospect’.
It confirmed it had exchanged contracts, with a sale due to complete this month.
Following the sudden closure, a petition has been set up to save the pub – and residents have put in an application to have it listed as an Asset of Community Value.
Maggie Size, a staff member, who set up the online petition, said: “The Weald Inn in Burgess Hill has been the heart of the local community for many years.
“It’s hard to put into words just how much it means to many people in the town.
“It is the place where people have come together over the years when they want to relax in their home from home, to see a familiar face or to be picked up when they have suffered a hardship or a tragedy.
“The Weald is more than just a pub. It’s a place where people pull together, a place where thousands of pounds have been raised for charities such as the Sussex Air Ambulance, hospices and disability charities which would not have been possible without it.”
Councillor Samantha Smith (Dunstall ward) and councillor Peter Chapman (Victoria ward) have been supporting residents in their fight.
Mrs Smith said: “As a regular of The Weald, the regulars and local community came to me for help. They didn’t need to ask as I was as passionate about trying to save the pub as they were!
“I have worked tirelessly together with the patrons and also received help from councillor Chapman.
“I also contacted our local MP Mims Davies who made a special visit to The Weald to listen, meet and speak to patrons for several hours.
“Therefore, we are working together for the community as one to help save The Weald pub from being sold for future development.”
Burgess Hill resident Russell Knottley described how The Weald, built in 1962, had been a successful community pub, home to four pool and two dart teams, the Jaguar Car, Classic Car, Enfield Bike and Fisherman’s clubs and hosted family events.
He went on: “When landlords retired last November, Greene King said The Weald was seen as a profitable community pub and would remain for the foreseeable future.”
A Greene King spokesman said: “Following the departure of the publican at The Weald Inn last November we undertook a detailed look at the pub’s position and made the difficult decision that it was no longer a viable long-term prospect any more.
“We openly advertised the pub for sale and received significant interest in the site and have now exchanged contracts, with a sale due to complete this month.”
Councillor Judy Llewellyn-Burke, deputy leader of Mid Sussex District Council, said: “Mid Sussex District Council has received an application from a group of local residents to register The Weald pub in Burgess Hill as an Asset of Community Value.
“The application will now be assessed by the council to ensure it meets the definition of an Asset of Community Value and that the nomination process has been undertaken correctly.”
In October last year, it was announced Suffolk-based pub chain Greene King was to be taken over by Hong Kong company CKA following a successful bid.
To sign the online petition, visit www.change.org/p/mid-sussex-county-council-save-the-weald-pub.