Talks progressing on turning a Soham pub into a community hub despite planning permission granted to turn it into a home

The Carpenter's Arms in Soham which could be turned into a ACV

The Carpenter's Arms in Soham which could be turned into a ACV - Credit: Archant

A town pub could be saved from closure as councillors say talks are progressing ‘positively’ - with council planners saying a decision to turn it into a community hub will be made within eight weeks.

The Carpenter’s Arms in Soham has planning permission to turn the setting into a house after the business was on the market for two years with just three viewings.

But East Cambs District Council confirmed that they had now received the an application to turn the pub into an asset of community value (ACV) - which will be determined in eight weeks.

It comes as five district councillors for Soham met last Thursday night (March 15) to discuss the matter.

If given the go ahead, it would join around 1,200 pubs across Britain that are run by local groups.

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Councillor Ian Bovingdon said: “We all agreed if we could still have it as an ACV then we are happy to do so.

“We had notification from East Cambs District Council that it had been put forward as an ACV despite having the planning permission.

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“There are quite a few people saying that with all the new developments in the area there are not enough businesses such as the pub and it would be nice to keep it.”

The Carpenter’s Arms is one of just four pubs left in Soham but despite massively dropping its price tag from £495,000 to £375,000 the owner says he has had little interest.

Cllr Bovingdon said they were still in the ‘early stages’ and funding had not been discussed if they were to buy it.

He added: “It was a positive evening but we are in the early stages of talks and want to support this so next we will be speaking to Soham Town Council and East Cambs again.”

Rebecca Saunt, planning manager for East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC), said: “Planning permission was granted to change the use of the pub to a residential dwelling at ECDC’s Planning Committee on March 7 2018. The use of the building will remain a pub until the permission for the change of use is implemented and they have three years to implement the permission.

“A community group could purchase the pub from the owner and continue to use it as a pub, if the change of use permission is not implemented. An application was received to list the pub as an Asset of Community Value, however it was considered that insufficient information had been submitted. The Council has now received another Asset of Community Value nomination for the pub which is to be determined within the next eight weeks.”

Speaking earlier last week, Tim Page, CAMRA chief executive, said: “It is fantastic to see community groups across England coming together to protect pubs across the country from redevelopment or demolition.

“It is a testament to the effectiveness of putting power back into the hands of local communities and giving them a chance to have a say in shaping their town centres.

“ACV status also generates vital support for local pubs and highlights the wide variety of community-orientated events and activities that contribute significantly to local civic life.”

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