The New Inn is located in is a rural hill top village located approximately five miles from the town of Warwick and about six and a half miles from the town of Stratford upon-Avon. There are 326 residents in the village, with 19% being under the age of 18 and 34% being over the age of 60.

About The New Inn

In June 2016 Enterprise Inns put The New Inn, Norton Lindsey, up for sale on the open market and the doors of the pub closed on 22nd July 2016. Offers were received from property developers; however, no interest was forthcoming from anyone wanting to run it as a pub, so it looked as though the village would lose the pub, a historic landmark in the village, having been an Inn since 1750.

Journey

Immediate action was taken by Rob Brook, a local resident, and a month after the pub went on the market, a highly skilled village team dubbed the ‘Salvation Squad’ was recruited. Responsibilities were divided and the team set to work. A community survey was sent out to every resident, to gain feedback on what facilities and activities it was felt should be offered. A community share prospectus was also circulated to potential shareholders: this provided important information about what investment would be needed from the community to help raise the funds, it also explained how pledges could be made to move the project forward.

With essential feedback from the community, indicating that the village would fully support a pub/restaurant/café and shop in equal measure, a business plan was written and a legal structure was created. The original members of the Salvation Squad became the founding members of the Community Benefit Society and Norton Lindsey Community Pub Limited was born.

Fundraising

The group approached the Plunkett Foundation, Key Fund and Pub is the Hub for guidance and support. They applied to the More Than A Pub programme and were awarded a £2,500 bursary, which paid for the structural survey, registration as a Community Benefit Society, and model rules and membership of the Plunkett Foundation.

Norton Lindsey Parish Council donated £500 towards the initial ‘fighting fund’ with an additional loan facility of £2,000 should it be required. The community share issue campaign was successful and £324,000 came from 226 community shareholders. Under the More Than A Pub programme, Key Fund provided a loan of £50,000 and a grant of £50,000 was also awarded to help secure the acquisition of the pub.

Social impact

In addition to its role as a village pub, The New Inn has a café and there are plans to open a local shop (linked to a nearby village store) in summer 2018. The pub also intends to offer a number of other facilities to local residents, the wider rural community, and visitors of all ages. The village has a number of elderly people and poor public transport so the creation of a local shop means those residents will be able to buy essential everyday items locally or even order. Other services will be available in due course – for example: a parcel drop off facility and a laundry and dry cleaning service. In the future the shop may also be able offer customers a range of home-made take-away meals.

34% of the village is over 60, with many young people under 18, and although Norton Lindsey is a relatively wealthy village, social exclusion is a risk for this community with its rural isolation. The pub encapsulates the meaning of community and it offers more than just food and drink – it is a vital social hub for everyone in the village.

Hear from the group

Rob Brook, Chairman, said: “Our vision was to not only save our historic pub, but to also turn it into a hub for the community with additional facilities. We only had a limited amount of time to get our act together, and we are not a big village, so we decided to extend our reach and have both a community share offer and a crowd funding option which would appeal to people living further afield.

We all have a shared goal now: to make the pub a success for years to come. Any profits the pub makes can be reinvested to further improve the premises or be used to benefit other community facilities such as the village hall and playground. This project is already bringing about greater community cohesion, and achieving our goal has given the community a real sense of empowerment and pride.”