Handcross community group bidding to purchase historic pub at risk of development

A community group is looking to raise funds to buy a historic Handcross pub at risk of redevelopment.

The Friends of the Royal Oak Inn (FOROI) are hoping to raise £250,000 to purchase the Royal Oak Inn as a community asset, and run the Grade II listed property as a typical village pub for the benefit of the area.

If the fundraising target is met, the Government’s Community Ownership Fund will match the amount – providing an additional £250,000.

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Funds must be raised by mid-July, as the pub’s legal protection as a community asset will lapse and the current owners may choose to sell the property to another buyer.

The Royal Oak Inn in Handcross. Picture courtesy of Friends of the Royal Oak Inn

The group, so far, have close to 100 people backing the cause, pledging almost £50,000.

FOROI member Karen Hale said: “The Royal Oak Inn has been the local pub of Handcross for as long as the oldest residents can remember.

“This Grade II listed historical building is now at risk of destruction and redevelopment and it is extremely important to the community to ensure that the Royal Oak Inn is saved and re-established as the community local.

“Pubs help to strengthen social networks between people who might not otherwise meet, necessary for community cohesion.

“It is important to us to ensure that the Royal Oak is re-established as the pub of choice for the village community.

“The pub will continue to provide a friendly atmosphere where everyone from a diverse population receives a warm welcome and an attractive choice of quality food and drink at an affordable price.

“It is our vision as well to ensure that not only is the Royal Oak Inn a pub for the local community but be an attractive venue for visitors from local villages and further afield.”

Karen also said that the loss of the historic pub would have a massive impact on Handcross both economically and socially.

She added: “The Royal Oak Inn has been a key feature of rural Handcross for hundreds of years, often described as ‘friendly’ and ‘homely’, the last quintessential old English pub in the area.

“Research has shown that people who have a local pub are happier, have more friends and feel more engaged with their local communities.

“Many pubs help provide space for the local people to meet, tackle loneliness, and strengthen the local community.

“In addition, it has been found that pubs in rural villages actually increase property values of the area and any loss of such amenities detrimentally affect such value.

“Economically, the loss of the pub in Handcross could lower property values by up to 12 per cent, which can be devastating, reduce job opportunities for people living in the area and affect local supply chains for food and local beer.

“The loss of the Royal Oak Inn would destroy history, a place for social engagement and involvement among residents living in the countryside, and a true asset to our community.”

In order to pledge a minimum investment of £250 to have an investment share in the pub, please visit foroi.co.uk.

For donations, under £250 or for people who want to give but don’t want a to be a community shareholder, please visit uk.gofundme.com/f/help-save-our-royal-oak-inn-handcross.