“More than just a pub, it’s a hub for the community”
The Blue Bell is a community-run village pub, restaurant, café with bed and breakfast accommodation in Cocking, West Sussex. Owned by over 130 investors and with more than 50 donations, read the story below of how it was achieved.
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The Bluebell, as it was then called, was put up for sale, the previous tenant surrendering the lease to move on to pastures new.
A sad time for the locals that used the Bluebell as the pub closed its doors for the last time.
The new owners apply for Change of Use to turn the Bluebell into two dwellings. The planning application received over fifty objections.
With all the interest shown for keeping the Bluebell as a pub and our local Postmaster talking about retiring, the Blue Bell Community Hub Steering Committee was formed. The vision being to incorporate the village pub, a restaurant and café, bed and breakfast, a shop, and, in due course, the Post Office into one building.
Strong support for keeping the Bluebell as a local facility, resulted in the property developers withdrawing their planning application, this was when negotiations between the property developers and the Blue Bell Community Hub representatives started.
The Blue Bell Community Hub Limited was incorporated as a Community Benefit Society, a not-for-profit organisation.
January also saw our first public meeting where the plans were unveiled to the local community of how financing would be achieved through a combination of grants, private loans and donations, a village share offer scheme, fund raising activities, and a bank loan. £470,000 had to be raised to buy the pub from the current owners who had agreed the sale, and £167,000 for cash flow and to refurbish it ready for opening.
Grant awarded from the Plunkett Foundation.
Grant Awarded from the South Downs National Park Authority.
Grant Awarded from the Grange
The sale of Blue Bell was completed with the financial support of the local community, grants, loans and donations. Community celebrates with a Pop-up pub.
The Management Committee then launched The Blue Bell Community Hub Refurbishment Fund, the target being £160,000.
Various Pop-up pub events and activities organised to help to raise funds.
Over 300 from across the county visited 14 of the villagers gardens
Grant Awarded from Chichester District Council
Grant Awarded from the Grange
Phase one of the refurbishment of the Blue Bell started, the whole ground floor being completely gutted, disabled access toilets and ramps put in, the bar repositioned, new cellar built, new kitchen installed, the whole internal building redecorated and much more!
Old bar removed and ground floor gutted
Grant Awarded from Awards For All
Grant Awarded from Leader
Original pub sign found in local garden refurbished and reinstated
Reverting to its original name, the Blue Bell opened its doors again.
After just 99 days of being open the Blue Bell at Cocking temporarily closes due to the Government lockdown, all staff furloughed.
After further fundraising, shut down enables us to start of phase two – refurbishment of the exterior of the Blue Bell.
New team appointed and ready for second reopening
Volunteers take a rest whilst preparing the garden for reopening