Residents Raleigh together to save local pub

The community of East Budleigh have come together to purchase and renovate their local pub with the help of Co-operative & Community Finance’s ‘More Than a Pub’ finance package.

The Grade 2 listed Sir Walter Raleigh pub (named after the statesman and explorer born in the village in 1552) situated in the ‘Otter Valley’ East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has been purchased by locals through an impressive community share offer along with supportive loan finance from Co-operative and Community Finance.

Over £350,000 has been raised in just a matter of months from nearly 300 residents investing in the pub, after the previous owner approached the village to see if the community wished to save this community asset. A Founding Members group was formed and following early advice through the Plunkett Foundation and a positive response from the community, an offer was accepted in late 2021 with the support of the Parish Council. From there a public meeting was held in January 2022 attended by over 200 people who were invited to pledge their support.

As well as the purchase of the building, the funding will also go towards refurbishing the bar and attached accommodation, investing in equipment and stock and provide working capital. The pub intends to employ a manager, chef and at least one other member of staff with the opportunity for local volunteers to contribute also.

The Sir Walter Raleigh aims to encourage locals back and widen their offer to the walkers, cyclists and tourists visiting the area and have already begun exploring the potential to reconfigure the rear of the property adding an extension to open up more space for customers.

The community pub intends to encourage community-led activities and social groups to use the pub, operate a coffee shop in the morning, bring company and community to the old and isolated and encourage families with children to visit. Paul Smith, Vice Chairman said: “Securing the future of the pub is a great achievement for our village. The support from Co-operative and Community Finance has been fantastic, they were helpful, responsive, supportive and very professional in all our dealings. The loan application process was straightforward and the terms of the loan very fair. Opening a current account was a tortuous process, by comparison securing our loan couldn’t have been easier.”

The supportive loan finance from Co-operative and Community Finance is the first to come from their ‘More Than a Pub’ fund, a loan product created specifically to support Community Pubs, as a legacy to the original Power to Change and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) funded project, led by the Plunkett Foundation. Tim Coomer, Business Development Manager Co-operative & Community Finance said: We are delighted to be able to support The Sir Walter Raleigh group, the Pub is the last remaining pub in the village, and it was vital to save it as a Pub for the village and community to enjoy for many years to come. East Budleigh has a good track record in supporting community owned ventures having established a Community Owned shop in 2008, which is highly successful to this day operated by a combination of volunteers and paid management”.

The ‘More Than a Pub Fund’ ’ provides loan finance of between £75,000 to £150,000 available to Community Owned Pubs at a discounted rate of interest for members of the Plunkett Foundation, length of term ranges from five to twenty years. Please contact Co-operative & Community Finance for the full terms and conditions, and to discuss how your Community Owned Pub venture can be supported.