Devon villagers seek pub tenant after grouping together to buy their local

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

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The Cadeleigh Arms' 57 Owners: A group of Devon residents are searching for a potential tenant after becoming the latest community group to buy their local pub
The Cadeleigh Arms' 57 Owners: A group of Devon residents are searching for a potential tenant after becoming the latest community group to buy their local pub
A group of 57 residents in the Devon village of Cadeleigh have become the latest community group to save their local by clubbing together to buy the Cadelieigh Arms pub and are now searching for a tenant to take on the business.

The group, led by local lawyer Hugh Sims, made the move fearing the pub may be sold to property developers after the former private owner closed the business in January and then made enquiries about applying for a change of use for the Exe Valley venue located between Tiverton and Exeter.

"It suffered recently partly because of the economic conditions but also because the vision of the previous operator was to push the food and bistro side of things," Sims told BigHospitality.

"It is a classic local village pub which has been there for a long time - it has gone through various different hands. A group of us were saying it would be a crying shame if it went the way of lots of pubs just being turned into houses," he said.


The group successfully opposed the change of use application and offered to buy-out the venue, marketed by Fleurets, for around £300k after securing pledges totalling just over £330k.

"We then had the tricky process of actually calling in the pledges," Sims admitted. The local residents received advice in the period from the Pub is the Hub organisation and other community groups that have previously made the move to buy their local.

The top tip Sims and co. received and would offer to other communities looking to follow in their footsteps? Keep all the processes as professional as possible - something the Cadeleigh group are keeping to when deciding how the pub business will operate in the future.

Visitors to the boozer, which contains a 100-cover dining space, are unlikely to see members of the community pulling pints behind the bar.

"The idea is for it to be community-owned but professionally run. Ultimately while there is goodwill for setting these things up, getting the pub in the best possible shape and supporting it when it opens we didn't think it was sustainable in the long run to operate it ourselves."


Potential tenants are now being sought who will have to agree to the proposed terms of the lease the group have drawn up before a meeting is held next week to decide the future of the business.

"It has been a very successful pub in the past and frankly there is no reason why in the future, if the community decide they want to sell, there shouldn't be a commercial operator who will want to buy it from us."

The successful landlord will have a large amount of free reign to decide opening hours and food and drink as long as the character of the pub is retained.

"There will be an element of direction and agreeing on goals but we don't intend to be overly prescriptive."

"Food isn't necessarily the whole of the answer to pub's problems - you have to keep your locals happy. Yes it does make money but if you are trying to make too much local people might well think it is overpriced and what we want is something reasonably priced with a good social atmosphere rather than a restaurant," Sims concluded.

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