One step closer to saving pub

The Drive public house in Victoria Drive Eastbourne which could be converted into a branch of Sainsbury's. June 5th 2013 E23218P

The Drive public house in Victoria Drive Eastbourne which could be converted into a branch of Sainsbury's. June 5th 2013 E23218P

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A community group is one step closer to retaining The Drive pub for public use after Cabinet members voted in favour of listing it as an Asset of Community Value.

On Wednesday Eastbourne Borough Council’s Cabinet met to discuss the application which has been put forward by Save the Drive Community Group (SDCG).

The community has been concerned after hearing of plans to turn the Old Town pub into a Sainsbury’s and a series of meetings and events have been held to highlight residents’ opposition to the proposals, with many concerned of the affect on shops in Albert Parade if a supermarket was built on land opposite.

The application by SDCG is the first application the council has received to list an asset of community value. It has come about because when listed assets come up for sale or a change of ownership there is a period of time where community groups can develop a bid and raise the money to buy the asset when it comes on the open market.

However, if the group is out-bid by another organisation then even with the backing of the local authority the community could fail to retain the pub and have a say on its future use as it is down to the owner of the pub to choose whether to sell to the community group or not, regardless of the level of their bid.

The cabinet spoke about the potential financial implications of the scheme, with Councillor Steve Wallis kicking off the debate. He said he was quite sceptical of the legislation but supported the paper in principle, while Councillor Carolyn Heaps said she was in agreement with the community group but added, “Where do they stand when they have someone like Sainsbury’s putting an offer in?”

Councillor Gill Mattock added, “On balance I think this is probably a good thing and we should be supporting this particular application.”

Cabinet members agreed to list the pub as an Asset of Community Value.