The Lord Nelson Public House, Burnham Thorpe, was officially notified to us as being for sale on 14th December 2018. It is currently owned by Greene King PLC. The company took full control over the premises after removing the leaseholders in 2016 following concerns about the running of the pub. The pub has been closed since that time.
The Friends of Burnham Thorpe (FoBT), in its informal role of helping to protect and strengthen the local community, has considered to what extent it should play a role in what happens next to the pub.
FoBT obtained status as an 'Asset of Community Value' for the pub with the assistance of the Parish Council in 2016. This was done to try to safeguard the pub against being turned into a private house. Although the protection this provides is quite limited, it does formally show the importance of the pub as a public asset and this would have to be considered in any future planning applications. It also ensures that there is time for a local group to consider and co-ordinate its response to the notice of sale.
Greene King said they would ideally like to try to ensure that it reopens as a pub and have assured us that they will hope to sell to an experienced, reputable operator. They have informed us that they have placed an 'overage' on the site which they say is to make the site significantly less attractive to property speculators. This means that, if a developer managed to get planning permission for residential building on the site, then a significant proportion of any profit would have to be paid to Greene King. The sale is being run by Cambridge-based agents Everard Cole.
There is wide acceptance in the village of the fact that, for the pub to be viable, some changes will almost certainly be needed, and that some of these changes may be quite substantial.
In recent months, because of not being able to use the pub, FoBT has been organising popular 'Pop-up Pub' nights in the Nelson Hall which have been enjoyed by everyone who has come along.
Recently, the working group decided that, because there are several good pub operators looking to bid for the pub, and because all of them have said that they do not intend to build houses in the back garden to sell, there is insufficient reason for the working group to continue work on submitting its own bid for The Lord Nelson and have notified Greene King accordingly.
There has already been considerable interest in the pub sale in the media, as can be seen below: