Still time to save historic East Wittering pub

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ks1600017-1 Chi Witt Royal Oak phot kate'The Royal Oak.ks1600017-1 SUS-160125-152231008

Interest has been shown in saving an historic pub - but time is running out.

In January, East Wittering resident Robert Harden sounded an SOS for an investor to come in and buy The Royal Oak in the village.

There has been a good response to the appeal, and two people have contacted him expressing a serious interest in becoming involved in the former pub and hotel, parts of which are 300 years old.

However Robert does not know if either of them has followed that interest up with a firm offer, and with the July 20 deadline getting nearer there is still time for a serious bidder to come forward.

Robert said: “In order to have a chance to take it over, a Community Interest Company (CIC) had to express a wish to buy The Royal Oak by March 2, so I set up a CIC and did that just to keep the option open in the hope that someone from the community will come forward.

“I have to say that I have no commercial interest in it, and if someone was seriously interested in buying the pub, they should get in touch as a matter of some urgency and I will happily hand it over.”

Robert said the two other interested parties also set up a CIC, but he is not sure if they have taken it further than that.

The pub was set to be turned into a supermarket and there was uproar in the village when the Southern Cooperative bought it.

But in June last year the Cooperative announced its plans were ‘no longer economically viable’, and in January it put the 300-year-old building up for sale.

Robert fears if no one from the community comes forward it will be back up for other big companies to bid on.

“After July 20 it can be sold on the open market, but it’s a real community asset and I hope someone takes it on to safeguard the village and shops,” he said.

“We’ve got just one shot, but it’s estimated it will go up for about £1,000,000, so I’d say either one or a group of investors would need between £1.2m to £1.5m to turn it around.”

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