Village success as Hoxne Swan pub is given asset of community value status

Hoxne Swan

Hoxne Swan

A bid to make a closed pub an asset of community value has been accepted by the local authority.

The Swan, in Hoxne, closed more than two months ago, and there has since been no word on it reopening.

The bid by Hoxne Parish Council, approved by Mid Suffolk District Council, means residents now have leverage in the event of any attempt to sell the Grade II listed 15th Century building with a change of use for possible residential or other purpose.

The pub was built as a lodge in 1480, for the Bishop of Norwich.

The Government’s Assets of Community Value scheme was introduced as part of the 2011 Localism Act to help communities protect their pubs, or other services, from closure.

It means community groups or parish councils that register their pubs are entitled to a six-month “moratorium of sale” if the owner chooses to sell, providing time to raise funds and make their own bid..

Parish council chairman Ted O’Connor said the closure had been a “thoroughly difficult story for the village,” and said problems first started before Christmas, when the pub was occasionally closed during advertised opening hours.

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He added: “It’s a wonderful old building and it should be the heartbeat of the village.

“My wife and I have lived in the village for 10 years and what we were looking for was a nice village with a pub, a shop and a church.

“It’s long been an asset not only to villagers but it’s effectively a tourist pub. It draws people in from a certain radius. It’s of great concern that the village has been more quiet.”

Villager, Stuart Jarrold said: “It is a great shame that what was once a much loved meeting place, well patronised and with a vibrant atmosphere, is now lost.

“The Swan has been the social hub of the community for such a long time. Everyone is keen to see it reopened again with new people in charge who can re-establish a thriving business.”

Mr O’Connor said he had not heard anything from owner, Enterprise Inns. Although he understood the firm had contractual obligations, he added: “Hearing something would be better than nothing. Our efforts are on getting the pub opened.”

A spokesperson for Enterprise said the Swan closed following the current publican’s decision to cease trading, adding: “We would like to reassure the residents of Hoxne that we are committed to the future of their village pub and are working with a third party who is interested in taking the Swan on with aim of having it back open and trading as soon as possible.”