Almost 200 residents packed out a meeting to discuss plans to restore the Ship Inn in Aldwick as a community pub last night.
The former pub in Aldwick Street, which was converted into a food shop after it closed in 2014, has stood empty for around two years.
Many residents want to see it reopened as a pub, but fears it could soon be refurbished and reopened as a food store have been sparked after a planning application was submitted to the council by One Stop Stores.
Around 180 residents packed out Mosse Hall at St Richard’s Church last night to hear from the Friends of the Ship Inn, who want the community to own and run a pub-restaurant at the site.
The group said it would cost around £450,000 to purchase the freehold of the pub.
Outlining their plans to raise funds, they group said they could apply for a £100,000 loan and grant from The Plunkett Foundation, which supports community pubs nationwide.
The rest of the cost could be raised through a share issue in a Community Benefit Society company which would own the site, plus a commercial loan, donations and fund raising.
Roger Beam, chairman of the Friends of the Ship Inn, said: “Audience members told the meeting they supported the plans and wanted to help.
“They believed a resurrected Ship Inn would help restore a sense of community spirit and reach out to those who are isolated and disadvantaged.”
He said the community was ‘entirely hostile’ to the idea of a shop coming to the site.
“The location wouldn’t work as a retail unit,” he said, adding that delivery lorries to the site would create ‘massive traffic havoc’.
A spokesman speaking on behalf of the owners, Surplus Property Investments, confirmed discussions with the Friends of the Ship Inn over any potential sale of the freehold were ongoing.
One Stop Store has been approached for a comment.