‘We have been robbed’ says village fighting to save its pub

Crawley Down villagers in their 'Save Our Pub' campaign SUS-160505-131412001
Crawley Down villagers in their 'Save Our Pub' campaign SUS-160505-131412001
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People living in a village on the edge of Crawley say they have been ‘robbed’ of their only pub.

But the villagers in Crawley Down have launched a campaign to save the pub - The Royal Oak in Station Road which first closed in March 2014 - and say they won’t give up.

In a statement this week they declared: “Crawley Down village has been robbed of its only pub by a combination of property speculators and the policy of supermarkets trying to expand their portfolio of small local stores.”

The villagers have formed a ‘Save The Pub’ Team, have had the building listed as an ‘Asset of Community Value,’ have won backing from local councillors and their local MP - and have already had pledges of more than £300,000 towards buying it.

But their campaign is currently at a stalemate as the owner is asking more than £1 million for the property.

An application by the owner to turn the pub into a convenience store was turned down by Mid Sussex District Council last September after more than 300 people protested at the plan.

In a statement this week, the pub team says: “Properly run, the Royal Oak would be a very profitable thriving pub at the centre of an ever expanding village community.”

Residents say that Crawley Down - population 5,300 - has recently been heavily targeted by developers and has expanded by more than 15 per cent in the last four years, but has not had the infrastructure in place to support the expansion.

The Royal Oak has existed since 1860, but is now empty and facing deterioration.

However, hundreds of villagers say they won’t give up in their fight to get it re-opened and are taking legal advice on obtaining ‘compulsory purchase.’

Save The Pub team member John Sullivan said: “We are still looking to take it into community hands and we want a compulsory purchase order with the help of the district council.”

Meanwhile, the owner has put forward an offer for the ground floor of the pub to be leased.

However, the Save The Pub team say that not enough information has been given about the proposal and there are ‘considerable risks’ involved.