Local hope to save village pub near Harborough

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A closed-down pub in a Harborough village could be saved by a local campaign.

The Red Lion on Main Street, Great Bowden, shut its doors in January after about 300 years as a village pub.

But residents have got the pub declared an Asset of Community Value (ACV) by Harborough District Council.

It means before the owner can sell the pub, he must consider an offer for the pub by a village consortium.

The villagers now have six months to get the funds together, explained local district councillor Sarah Hill, who has backed the campaign.

Lisa Hilton, of the Save The Red Lion campaign, said: “It’s a real shame for the community that this pub has closed down.”

She said one option for the owner would be to sell the pub and surrounding land for more village houses.

“But we’re already getting more houses - we want it back as a pub,” she said.

And parish council vice-chairman Paul Claxton said: “We’re having to accept another 250 houses in Great Bowden, so we’ll need more facilities not fewer.

“And we already have villagers who say ‘when you need the money, talk to me’.”

The pub was bought by the current owner less than four years ago for around £350,000, villagers say.

The village consortium are confident they could raise £400,000 for the pub.

A further complication is the way that Harborough District Council has delineated the ACV order.

Unusually, the order for The Red Lion currently excludes the surrounding garden and pub car park.

Villagers say that their offer would include the garden and car park - without which the pub would be a much less viable business - and cars parked for the pub would clog already busy village streets.

“But the main point is the pub has been part of village life for hundreds of years” said Lisa.

“People talk about having everything from wakes to christenings there.

“The pub always seemed popular - and we believe it’s still a very viable business.”

The Red Lion was a gastro-pub, and voted Best Bar by readers of the Harborough and Lutterworth Mail in 2014.