The Cow That Changed Its Spots

A village pub in Derbyshire has re-opened after two years of closure, with new facilities and new owners – the local community.

The Spotted Cow is now owned by a community benefit society with 225 members from the village of Holbrook and the surrounding area. They raised over £170,000 to finance the purchase, and Co-operative & Community Finance assisted with a loan for the refurbishment of the building. In addition to the pub, The Spotted Cow will also be home to a post office, café and B&B.

Holbrook is a hilltop village on the edge of the Peak District National Park with views over the Derbyshire countryside. The Spotted Cow was reportedly a popular local in the past, with a cricket club and football team. But it hit hard times and was forced to close in 2015.

In 2016, a planning application for the land was put in by a developer, which at a Parish Council meeting was overwhelmingly opposed. Instead, the residents nominated The Spotted Cow as an Asset of Community Value and launched a community share issue to raise the finance to buy the building.

The purchase was completed on 13 April 2017, and the pub, café and post office are all due to open at the beginning of July after refurbishment. The pub will be leased to a tenant, with the B&B, café and post office all being run by the Holbrook Community Society.

Stephanie Limb, secretary of the Holbrook Community Society said: “We’re really excited to get the pub back and create more of a community feel in the village. Without the loan from Co-operative & Community Finance we couldn’t have done the refurbishment necessary to make the pub as good as it can be for our community, thank you so much!”

Nearby to Holbrook is the Anglers Rest in Bamford, which became Derbyshire’s first community-owned pub in 2013. During planning, Stephanie visited the pub and was inspired by what had been accomplished by community ownership.

Ian Rothwell, Investment Manager at Co-operative & Community Finance, said: “I was really impressed with the determination and resilience of the community through a very difficult buying process. The café, post office, B&B and pub will provide a great asset to the community, giving locals a fantastic hub right in the heart of the village.”

To make this loan, Co-operative & Community Finance drew on funds made available by the Ecology Building Society under the terms of the government Community Investment Tax Relief scheme.