Community launch Rocklands pub bid
A rallying call has been issued to the residents of a Norfolk village after a plan was hatched by a community group to buy and reopen the local pub.
The White Hart was first established in Rockland All Saints, near Attleborough, in the late 18th century, but has been closed since last October.
A group of local residents has now called on others to pledge their support for a plan for the community to buy the village's only inn for the benefit of future generations.
Dozens of people have already signed up to join the Rocklands White Hart Community Association and a public meeting will take place at the village hall next month.
The group is calling on investors to purchase shares in the project, which will cost �250 each, in order to buy and refurbish the pub, which is currently up for sale, and reopen it as a commercial community public house with a full-time manager and chef.
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The freehouse, which was rebuilt in 1930 after a fire, is currently owned by Binz and Sally-Ann Leeder, who ran the building for four years.
Jonathan Graham, chairman of the newly-formed community association, said the White Hart had been missed since its closure and local residents were concerned that it could be turned into private housing in the future. He added that the group needed to raise around �380,000.
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'There is a lot of enthusiasm for the pub to reopen. Our vision is for a commercially successful, completely independent pub, with no borrowings and no brewery tie, owned by local shareholders.
'We think we would have a full-time chef and manager and we expect the pub to stand on its own feet, competing fair and square with other village locals. We plan to use the existing space differently to provide a drinking area apart from the restaurant, and hope to eventually extend the building to increase the space,' he said.
The group plans to restrict the sale of shares to a maximum of �5,000 per person.
New ideas for the community pub include introducing an internet cafe, community garden, boules, social club and meeting point.
The current owners of the White Hart declined to comment last night.
A meeting will take place on September 28 at Rocklands Village Hall from 7pm. For more information, visit www.rocklandswhitehart.co.uk or call 01953 747787 or email firstname.lastname@example.org