Bristol community seeks to raise funds to save pub

113818935 whatsubject - Bristol community seeks to raise funds to save pub
Image caption The fundraising committee have to raise £300k through shares

Customers in Bristol have launched a £500k fundraising bid to save their local from being converted for housing.

The Windmill in South Bristol closed in March and a planning application has been submitted to turn it into flats.

Fundraiser Phoebe Smart said: “For a lot of us it feels like the heart of the Windmill Hill community.”

Its owner Mike Cranney said pub businesses had been hit hard by lockdown and he needed a buyer quickly in order to save another pub he runs.

Residents have so far bought £100k worth of shares in the The Windmill. With a mortgage of £195k agreed, that means fundraisers need another £200k to hit their purchase target.

Image caption The Windmill closed in March

Ms Smart, 31, lives just a few metres from The Windmill and said it was one of the reasons she had moved to the area.

“It has a unique feel, like a country pub but in the heart of a city.”

The group formed before the coronavirus pandemic. It was fearful that lockdown might hamper efforts to raise the money, but it said it had been encouraged by the response from locals.

“It’s really nice to see the amount of people who have invested and want to keep the pub open,” Ms Smart said.

“We feel this is the last chance. If we don’t buy it now it will be gone.”

Coronavirus ‘nightmare’

Bristol City Council rejected a planning application to turn the pub into flats in April – citing a lack of natural light and issues over bin and bicycle storage – but it was resubmitted in July.

Mike Cranney, director of Bar Wars Ltd which owns The Windmill, said the planning application was a “last resort” after his business had been hit hard by the impact of coronavirus which he said had been a “nightmare” for pubs.

Because the pub closed before lockdown, Mr Cranney, whose company ran The Windmill for 15 years, said he was ineligible for any government grants and had to take out a loan to save another pub which the company runs in Bristol.

“I now have the enormously insecure possibility of another lockdown forcing the company into bankruptcy,” he said.

“The flats development is a last resort but I have to consider it if we cannot find a suitable buyer with an offer that supports our financial conditions.”

Mr Cranney said he would be happy to sell the pub to the community group if they matched its £495,000 valuation.

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