End of term report

This has been an extraordinary year for our pub. After four years of protest since the pub was closed, it has been inspiring to us all to see how, given the opportunity, the community has rallied round to help save the Packhorse.

The fundraising campaign has been the most eye-catching development. A total of around £600,000 raised by sale of community shares over the summer allowed us to buy the pub in September. Since then, investments have continued to arrive and the total raised now stands at £720,000 from over 320 individual shareholders. We are hugely grateful for their generosity!

We’re grateful too for the efforts of the dozens of volunteers who have freely given their time and professional expertise to the cause. From the surveyors and valuers who have helped us prepare detailed plans to restore the building and who are now supporting the process to appoint builders, to the volunteers who have cleared the gardens and stripped the building ready for restoration. Their work has saved tens of thousands of pounds in costs and has helped us make rapid progress.

That progress is evident in the detailed plans before B&NES at the moment. They describe an exciting prospect: more off-street parking, public sitting and dining rooms on the first floor, indoor loos, improved garden and better kitchen.

After the care taken in preparing the plans, and with 103 messages of support recorded during the consultation period, we are hopeful that planning permission will be granted in early January. That should allow building work to begin in January/February and for the pub to be open in some form by July 2017.

We will need to raise another £160,000 in the New Year to complete the funding of the building works. But right now, let’s enjoy the achievements of the last eight months or so. Join us on Boxing Day (Monday 26th) from 12 noon to 4pm to celebrate progress and look forward to 2017. And if you’ve not experienced the unique atmosphere of the candle-lit tap room with blazing log fire, abuzz with conversation, then this may be your chance…

Above all, thank you for your support and encouragement over recent months and a merry Christmas to you all!

 

Afternoon at the Packhorse

Our next event at the Packhorse will be at 12-4pm on Saturday 17th December. Come meet the team to find out the latest news, and take a peek inside the pub.

There will be food and drink available, and a mini Christmas fair selling chutney, jams, cakes and biscuits, Christmas cards of the Packhorse, and raffle tickets to win a hamper and other prizes…

…and we hope that Father Christmas will put in an appearance! We hope to see you there too.

 

Planning application comments

Our applications for planning permission and listed building consent for the refurbishment of the Packhorse have been submitted and are now available for inspection. Supportive comments will help our cause so please take a moment to express your support on B&NES’ web site, particularly on the planning application!

The applications are necessarily verbose but here’s what they aim to achieve:

  • outside: six new car parking spaces
  • basement: kitchen and extension with dumb waiter to all floors
  • ground floor: character of bars preserved
  • first floor: dining and sitting rooms – public for the first time
  • top floor: one bedroom flat for a manager
  • indoor WCs!

There are currently 44 drawings and documents in each application but the two are largely identical. So, if you’re short of time, we suggest you review the following to get a sense of the plans:

B&NES will ignore identical comments (no copy & pasting, please!) but you might consider expanding on one or more of the following:

  • Rescue of a neglected listed building
  • Uniquely facilitates social connections across all ages and walks of life
  • Project involves the whole community
  • Improved Asset of Community Value
  • Renovation will reveal the history of an ancient building
  • Relocation of kitchen creates a more viable pub
  • Extra parking will help older customers.

Please express your support via B&NES’ official comment form online before the formal consultation period ends on 15 December. Or, use our contact form to give detailed feedback to the committee.

Thanks!

The pub is ours!

We’re delighted to report that our purchase of the pub is complete: The Packhorse now belongs to the community!

And the applications for shares have continued to arrive: we now have over 236 investors who have contributed a total of £685,000. We are grateful to and inspired by everyone who has joined this worthwhile project.

Planning of the refurbishment is already well under way with the aim of reopening early Summer 2017. Our intent is to preserve the precious and historic charm of the old building but to include a new kitchen and indoor loos! We’ll share more details with our investors in due course.

We still have more capital to raise to pay for refurbishment and the share offer remains open, so there is still time for others to join in – just look for the prospectus and share application form here.

We also intend to be more creative in our fundraising. We’ll have details soon but we expect this to involve grant applications (we have our eye on the Heritage Lottery Fund), accepting smaller donations and, among other things, events.

Our next such fundraising event will be a public apple pressing in the pub garden at 12 noon on Sunday 23 October. Bring your own apples and see how it’s done! We’ll circulate more details nearer the time.

 

Talk on “History of Bath Pubs”

Just a quick reminder that there will be an illustrated talk on “A History of Bath Pubs” by Dr Andrew Swift this Wednesday (21st September) at 7:30pm in South Stoke Village Hall.

Andrew is a historian, an author of several books about local pubs, and an entertaining speaker. Entrance is free but arms may be twisted for a donation to the Save the Packhorse fund! Refreshments will be available and all are welcome.

UPDATE: A great turnout in the hall last night raised £250 for Packhorse refurbishment.  Thanks to Andrew for a very engaging talk!

 

The news is good!

We’re delighted to report that our share issue has been a huge success! At 7pm yesterday, after a late flood of money, over 200 investors had contributed a total of £601,000 – and there are more share applications in the pipeline. We now have the capital both to buy the Packhorse for the community and to begin to develop detailed plans for the refurbishment!

We are thrilled, relieved and hugely grateful for the generosity of supporters of the Packhorse. Thank you so much! And to the two hundred or so people who assembled in the pub garden yesterday evening to hear the news – we hope you enjoyed the occasion as much as we did.

We’re not quite there yet – we still have to raise around £265,000 for refurbishment and working capital. But the money invested so far will not only buy the pub but also buy us time to raise money for building work in early 2017 with a view to reopening early Summer next year.

We are leaving the share issue open for the time being, so there is still time for others to join this special project – just look for the prospectus and share application form on our web site.

Meanwhile, we now have time to be more creative in our fundraising. We’ll have details in due course but we expect this to involve grant applications (we have our eye on the Heritage Lottery Fund), accepting smaller donations and, among other things, events.

One such event will be an illustrated talk on “A History of Bath Pubs” by Dr Andrew Swift at 7:30pm on Wednesday 21st September in South Stoke Village Hall. Andrew is a historian, an author of several books about local pubs, and an entertaining speaker. Entrance is free but arms may be twisted for a donation to the Packhorse fund! Refreshments will be available and all are welcome.

We’ll share more news soon!

 

Announcement event this Saturday!

We’re going to decide at the end of this week whether we’ve raised enough capital to buy the Packhorse for the community.

So come and join us, if you can, in the pub garden (or South Stoke Village Hall if wet) at 6:30pm to 8pm, Saturday 10 September to hear the news and what happens next. There will be a bar, a rustic musical interlude and possibly a TV camera crew!

By close of business today, the total raised to date was £498,000 towards the purchase cost of £525,000 so we just need a final push this week to make sure of good news at the weekend…

…so if you’ve not yet invested, please consider joining us today by reading our prospectus and sending us your completed share application form.  Thanks!

 

Time for an update!

Since the launch of our offer of community shares in the Packhorse we’ve now raised funds or firm commitments amounting to £474,950 [updated 3 September 2016] – 90% of the total required to buy the pub. Many thanks to all concerned!

In case that comes as a complete surprise, here’s the gist of what’s going on:

  • the pub was closed and left empty four years ago; now the owner has agreed to sell it to us
  • our community-based company has exchanged contracts with the owner; completion is due in September, subject to a successful fundraising campaign
  • we need to raise £525,000 to buy the pub and then some more for refurbishment
  • we hold pledges of nearly half this amount so we still face a huge challenge to raise the money to secure the pub and we need your help
  • we plan to raise the money through selling shares to the people of South Stoke, Bath and beyond
  • we have assembled an experienced team, prepared a credible business plan and are working with experts and B&NES planners to ensure a successful restoration and re-opening.

In parallel with the fundraising, we’re making tangible progress in saving the pub. Just in the last couple of weeks:

  • we’ve had a very constructive meeting with a senior Conservation Officer from B&NES to discuss plans for refurbishment of the building – it highlighted to us all the opportunity we have to restore many features of this wonderful listed building, neglected for so long
  • our pub garden restoration project continues – some unusual plants have been found there so we’re trying to preserve the good and clear the bad – volunteers meet each Wednesday evening so come along if you’re interested.

We’re going to hold another public meeting at 6:30pm on Saturday 10 September outside the pub and in South Stoke village hall to discuss progress and give shareholders and potential investors another opportunity to meet and question the team. We’ll publicise this more prominently nearer the time.

However, our key target remains raising the £525,000 required to complete the purchase of the pub as soon as we can. So if any of this is of interest:

Thanks!

 

Good progress but please act now!

Since our offer of community shares in the Packhorse went public just 3 weeks ago, we’ve received cash and commitments worth over £287,000.  This is a significant first step towards the initial target of the £525,000 required to complete the purchase of the building.  A huge thank you to all those who have committed so far!

This is great progress but we have a lot more to raise and don’t have much time.  If we fail to raise the purchase price this summer, we will miss out on this unique opportunity to save the pub.  So, if you are planning to buy shares, please don’t hesitate.  The sooner we reach the initial target, the sooner we can buy the pub and start the refurbishment work.

So, please download and read our prospectus. If you can help then please complete a share application form. To find out more, including arrangements for electronic payment, simply complete our declaration of interest form.