About The Yew Tree
This rural village pub, 5 miles from Banbury was bought by the local community when all other community spaces had been lost. With Plunkett’s support, the Avon Dassett Community Benefit Society opened The Yew Tree to the community in December 2017, but their journey hasn’t all been plain sailing…
How did the group buy the pub?
The Yew Tree was put up for sale in 2015 and bought by people who immediately applied for planning permission for a Change of Use to residential. The community registered the pub as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) with the local council, and the planning application was eventually withdrawn.
In 2016, the pub was on the market again: the Avon Dassett CBS had formed by this time and sprang into action, becoming Members of Plunkett, getting a valuation on the property and launching a community share offer. Successful in applying for the More than a Pub’s (MTAP) grant and loan package and in raising the rest of the finance needed, the group finally were able to buy the pub.
With no hospitality experience within the committee, the group decided on a tenanted model and began looking for suitable tenants to run The Yew Tree. This proved to be one of the most challenging areas of the project, and the group experienced the disappointment of a succession of tenants and chefs which for various reasons didn’t work out. Finally, in April 2020, the tenants were gone and the pub was empty for the duration of the Covid lockdown.
The pub’s ethos is ‘welcome to your living room’, and its charitable purpose is social cohesion. There is a walking group monthly which finishes at the pub for lunch and has really made people feel part of a social group. The new chef is using meat from a local Banbury butchers and the pub is switching its beers to more local breweries, remaining a Free House. It also sells local honey from a village beekeeper and has a new wine list in and there is excitement in the village about the new Monday Pie Night, Steak Nights and Sunday roasts.
All staff at the pub are now paid employees, so the pub has created employment in this rural location for younger people to earn money and gain skills without having to travel.