A “David and Goliath” fight has begun over Chorley’s first Community Asset bid.
Campaigners battling to save the Gillibrand Arms are squaring up to brewery giant Thwaites over the future of the under-threat pub.
And victory for them could result in it being bought and run by the community group.
The Gillibrand is the borough’s first Asset of Community Value application, registered and listed with Chorley Council.
Under the Localism Act 2011, it means any proposed sale could be put on hold for six months to give members of the community the chance to raise funds to buy the “asset”.
Community Assets include pubs, churches, schools, libraries and a host of other land and buildings.
A planning application has been submitted by Chorley Community Housing (CCH) for the Collingwood Road pub, which is owned by Thwaites, which has put it up for sale subject to planning
Campaigner Bernadette Markham explained: “It has now been listed as a Community Asset.
“We’ve got six weeks to say whether we want to submit a formal business proposal. We’ve done that and have six months to come up with a business plan and funding to buy the pub. Although the brewery can’t sell the pub, they don’t have to accept a bid we make. It might be absolutely futile, but we can but try.
“We want to protect the Gillibrand because it’s a well-used popular pub. The potential is there for it to be really successful. When it’s gone, it’s gone and will never be replaced. What people want is a real ale pub.”
She added: “It’s a bit of a David and Goliath battle - but we’re willing to give it a go.”
Ward councillor Pauline Phipps said: “I’m delighted that the decision has been taken to consider the application on behalf of the residents’ group to make it a community asset, which means that the planning decision will now have to be considered in light of the application.”
Andrew Buchanan, director of pub operations at Thwaites, said: “We’re working closely with Chorley Borough Council and awaiting confirmation of parties interested in bidding for the pub.”
A CCH spokesman said: “Our planning application has been deferred to allow the community the opportunity to purchase the pub in accordance with the requirements of a property listed as a community asset. We will await the outcome of this process before deciding whether to progress our proposed redevelopment.”
Wes Truran, a committee member of CAMRA, who helped to co-ordinate the bid for the campaigners, said: “It’s definitely a case of there’s a demand from the community living round there and they want the pub to carry on, irrespective of Thwaites or someone else to gets the pub.”
CAMRA says 600 pubs are now listed as Assets of Community Value in England.