A STAFFORDSHIRE Moorlands pub has been registered as an asset to the community.
Councillors and officers at Staffordshire Moorlands District Council have backed plans by The White Hart Alton Community Group to list the premises in High Street as a community asset.
The decision means that the community group has six months to raise funds and put in a bid to purchase the premises.
Chairman of the community group, Tom Wilkinson, said: "The White Hart was put up for sale and potential buyers had to put in bids. People were not made aware of when the final bids were and it was done very quickly.
"Many villagers were concerned what would happened to the building so it was decided to try and get the premises registered as a community asset.
"This now stops any exchange of contracts taking place for the pub, which is the oldest in the village, for six months. We are now looking to raise funds and run it as a pub and restaurant. Land adjoining the premises has 20 allotments which are used by people of all ages from the village.
"I have now been informed that the following the decision to have it registered the pub will reopen.
"The community group, which has 50 members, has received fantastic support from people, as many have the desire to see it remain open as a community building."
A community value assessment compiled for the council said: "The nomination form includes evidence of beneficial community use which meets the criteria – use by the pool team, skittle team darts and cribbage teams.
"The pub is used to hold meetings and catered for Christening parties and wakes. Fundraising and charity events have been held and the allotments on the site are a focus for social activity."
The assessment adds: "It is reasonable to view most of the above uses to be integral to the purpose of the building.
"The garden use as allotments could be viewed as ancillary but is part of the beneficial uses over the last 18 months.
"The need/demand for the community to have a community space in which to meet and pursue social interest is likely to continue.
"The nominating group has stated that support from the community for their group is growing. Community owned pubs have proven to be viable elsewhere."
The Community Right to Bid, part of the Localism Act, allows communities to ask councils to register buildings and land that play an important part in local life.
Once a building has been successfully registered, an owner deciding to sell the building must first inform the council and then hold back on the sale for six weeks to allow the parish council or local community groups to decide if they would like to buy the property.
If the local community does want to bid to purchase the building, the owner is required to suspend the sale for a period of six months – which allows the community the opportunity to raise money to make a purchase. However, the owner does not have to sell to the community group even if they meet the asking price.