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Little Somerford pub will be revived
A popular pub in north Wiltshire is to reopen after villagers clubbed together to buy the business.
Work is already underway to transform The Saladin in Little Somerford after five residents bought it last week, after watching it stand empty for two years.
The news comes more than a year after the former landlords tried and failed to get planning permission to turn the pub into housing, which led to the launch of the Save Our Saladin campaign group.
James Layton, who is one of the team of five who have taken ownership of the premises, said: “It’s been empty for two years.
“We were just aware of the fact that there was this facility sitting there which had been very much part of village life for years and it was just rotting away.
“The community needs a nice, happy place where they can eat, drink and meet up, so we just felt we needed to do something with it.
“We bought it 10 days ago and the day afterwards the builder was in there and ripping it up and getting things started.”
Once it has been refurbished and new landlords appointed, the pub will reopen as The Somerford Arms.
The community made an initial attempt to raise cash to buy the premises last year from landlords Sue and David Robson, but now five residents have stepped forwards as part of a consortium to buy the pub as an investment. The team haggled the price down from £325,000 to £175,000.
Fellow member John McGrath said: “It’s exciting, a great conviction. It’s the last facility in Little Somerford. All the shops have gone over the years and we all used to love the pub.”
Former landlord Mrs Robson initially wanted to convert the pub into two three-bedroom houses, claiming the business was not viable after running it for 10 years.
Planning inspector John Wilde rejected the idea after villagers appealed for the plan to be turned down, saying the pub was too important for the community.
Speaking at the time, he said: “I have concluded that The Saladin has been marketed at an unrealistic price and that its status as an unviable business has not been proven.
“I have received a great deal of correspondence from locally interested people regarding this appeal and more than 30 of them attended the hearing. I am left in little doubt, therefore, that The Saladin is an important part of the community.”
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