Hopes of resurrecting a historic village pub received a boost after a judge said the venue has a ‘realistic future’.
The Beehive, in Horringer closed in 2014 after Greene King sold it to pubs company Hawthorn Leisure, but villagers hope to buy the pub, which first opened in 1860.
Last year, it was designated an ‘asset of community value’ by St Edmundsbury Borough Council, giving it protection and allowing the community time to raise funds.
Hawthorn Leisure appealed to the First-Tier Tribunal against the listing, but Judge Peter Lane has rejected the challenge. Ruling in the Friends of The Beehive’s favour, he said there was hope The Beehive could re-open.
“It is realistic to think that, in the next five years, The Beehive can return to furthering a relevant social interest,” he said.
“The Friends have demonstrated that there is a realistic future for the Beehive as a pub.
“In view of this, it is realistic to think that Hawthorn Leisure Ltd will either begin to run it as such, or else sell it to someone who will.”
The company had said it was not viable as a pub and applied for planning permission to make it a house, which was refused.
Challenging the community asset listing, Hawthorn said that, of 25 sales inquiries about the building, only the Friends had wanted it as a pub.
But the Friends said Hawthorn’s £475,000 asking price was as if it had permission for change to housing and pointed out Hawthorn had paid £235,000 two years ago.
Giving judgment, Judge Lane said the price was either deliberately set to deter interest or to reflect potential as a house. He said that as planning permission had been refused it would not be unrealistic to think that Hawthorn might one day sell at a price reflecting that.