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Villagers fight to save pub

PUBLISHED: 12:00 20 January 2016

The Rising Sun, Backwell.Photo by Jeremy Long.

The Rising Sun, Backwell.Photo by Jeremy Long.

Jeremy Long \ JCL Photography

A petition has been launched to save one of Backwell’s last remaining pubs from closure.

Punch Taverns, which owns The Rising Sun in West Town Road, is considering knocking down the pub and building homes.

The closure would leave one end of the Backwell without a pub and villagers have created an online petition to save it. More than 580 people have signed it so far.

Campaign creator Linda Sweet said: “Punch Taverns is applying to turn the pub into housing. This would leave the village with only one pub at the far end of the village – more than a mile away.

“Another Backwell pub, The New Inn, remains boarded up and has had the bar furniture removed as other developers pursue housing there.

“We feel Backwell needs, and can support, more than one pub. The Rising Sun is a great facility with lots of previously untapped potential.

“We want to retain it as a pub, a place to meet, drink and eat, but also to use the many spaces within the building and gardens for community activities and groups.

“The online petition demonstrates there’s really strong support for it to stay a pub.”

Speaking at Backwell Parish Council meeting on Thursday, Ms Sweet said her preference would be for another pub chain to take over the building.

However, she will be using the Localism Act to nominate The Rising Sun as an asset of community value if a new owner is not found.

The pub is up for sale with a price tag of £600,000.

A Punch Taverns spokesman said: “We have received expressions of interest from third parties and we are considering all options available. One such consideration is the potential to seek planning for a residential scheme, however, no plans have been submitted.”

Cllr Karen Barclay, who represents Backwell for North Somerset Council, said: “It’s a community asset and North Somerset doesn’t like communities to lose their assets.

“It does have a policy that if it does go for housing, Punch Taverns must prove it has marketed it as a going concern for six months.”

Backwell Parish Council agreed to write to North Somerset to ask it ensures Punch Taverns adheres to those rules.

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