Boost for boozers as rural pubs across England rescued with levelling up funds

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Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab enjoying a pint with former German Foreign Minister, Heiko Mass at the local pub in Kent. Picture by Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street.

Far-flung pubs in rural communities across England are among the cherished community assets being saved by government levelling up funding today (24 March 2022).

In a boost for Great British boozers, endangered pubs in areas such as West Cornwall and Melton Mowbray will be put into the hands of the local community, giving them a new lease of life for generations to come.

In rural Wiltshire, a pub that has stood at the heart of the communities of the Ogbourne Saint Andrew, Maizey and Rockley hamlets for over 100 years has been thrown a lifeline with investment of £237,500. The Silks pub is the only place that locals can get together, making it vital to the lives, wellbeing, and economy of the community.

There is funding for the Prince of Wales pub in the Cornish town of Helston too, which has become a focal point for the community after the local shop, garage and school closed in recent years. And £150,000 will breathe new life into the Bell Inn in Leicestershire, which closed two years ago and was likely to be lost to developers.

The pubs are among ten new projects being rescued with a total of £1.8 million of funding from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. The money is being awarded from the department’s £150 million Community Ownership Fund, which helps communities take ownership of assets and amenities at risk of closure.

Today’s allocations also include funding for a sports academy in Northern Ireland, a community centre in Scotland, an historic chapel in County Durham and a village shop and post office in Dorset.

Secretary of State for Levelling Up Michael Gove said:

Pubs, historic buildings and sports clubs form a vital part of our heritage and for too many places they are a disappearing part of the local community.

That is why we are helping local people take control of these beloved community assets, which would otherwise be lost.

This sits right at the heart of our vision for levelling up – giving people the power to make positive changes in their local community and restoring pride in the places where the live.

CAMRA National Chairman Nik Antona said:

Where dedicated local people are willing to save pubs in their area from closure, demolition or conversion to another use it is right that they are supported to do just that.

Our locals are vital parts of our social fabric – bringing people together, helping to tackle loneliness and social isolation, and providing a range of services for rural communities they serve.

That’s why it is so encouraging to see that more communities are benefiting from Community Ownership funding to secure the future of pubs in their communities.

In Northern Ireland, the Ballymacash Sports Academy received £300,000 to provide state-of-the-art sport facilities to help young people from all backgrounds excel in their sporting talents.

Historic Vogrie Hall in Scotland will be brought back to life with a £127,251 investment. The 1930s building in the heart of Midlothian, was once a hub at the heart of the local community but was forced to close in 2020 after falling into disrepair.

The Fund is already helping communities across the nation seize ownership of prized local assets, including supporters of Bury Football Club who recently bought back the club’s historic Gigg Lane stadium.

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