Villagers win the battle to keep their pub

Villagers protesting outside the pub in December last year.
Villagers protesting outside the pub in December last year.

A campaign by residents in a village near Market Harborough has saved their local pub from being converted into houses.

A new landlord now hopes to reopen The George in Ashley, north-east of Market Harborough, in September.

Ashley Parish council chariman Stephen Castens said: “We’re very pleased. It’s a great great result!”

The George is an attractive, grade II-listed Northamptonshire stone building which has been a pub fore more than 250 years.

But the pub shut two years ago, and the building’s new owner - local man Stephen Craik - submitted a planning application to Kettering Borough Council to convert it into two homes.

The parish council fought back by designating the pub an “asset of community value”, a move which makes a change of use much more difficult.

The village of 12o houses sent 100 letters to Kettering Borough Council planners, objecting to the homes plan.

Council officers turned the conversion plan down.

Now new landlord Chris Hand (48), with partner Carole Clarke, has taken on the pub, and is looking to reopen in mid-September.

“Oh, we can’t wait” said Chris, a professional chef who has worked in the Cotswolds, Leamington and Stratford.

“It’s one of those villages that you drive through and think it would be a dream to live here.

“Well we get to live and work in the chocolate box pub in the pretty village.

“It’s a big lifestyle change, but something we’re really looking forward to.”

Chris said there was a refurbishment programme taking place at the pub.

He said the pub would be stocking local beers, spirits and even local wines, and serving modern British food.

The pub is currently looking for a chef and an experienced bar person to join the team.

“We are very confident we can create a good business here” said Chris.

“It’s so good to have the whole village behind us, and there are also lots of attractions and towns nearby too.”

Mr Castens said: “We’re totally delighted as a village that the pub will re-open, and we’ll do everything we can to make the pub work

Lifelong Ashley resident David Chadwick has said: “The George has always been a focal point for me, my family and friends – truly a community pub.”