Even before Covid, village pubs were becoming easy targets. First the Wheatsheaf in Punnets Town, then the Three Cups, closed. And now, with its newly approved planning permission (despite objections from customers, local residents and the Parish Council), the Black Duck too is up for sale with consent for conversion to residential.

Covid has exacerbated the challenges for many local businesses, but pubs have been amongst the worst hit by the restrictions as they are intrinsically people businesses. And now the owner of the Horse and Groom property has announced that it’s up for sale – the threat is real.

As the Horse & Groom is an “Asset of Community Value” there is a facility for a “Community Right to Bid nomination”  There is a moratorium period during which any community bid can be developed:
“If by (24th April 2021) a community interest group indicates to the (Wealden District) Council in writing that it wishes to be treated as a potential bidder the full moratorium period will extend until 12th September 2021, and the protected period will end on 12th September 2022.”
The Warbleton Parish Council’s website gives details of the process if a community group wishes to make a bid (see link below).

Whomever takes over the pub ownership, it’s clear that unless it can return to its status as a busy, popular and viable centre for the local community, attracting customers from all those areas that have lost their pub, the Horse and Groom may too be endangered – and it’s loss would have an enormous impact on the character and richness of village community life. “Use it or lose it” has never been more true. In the meantime, don’t forget, until the restrictions are lifted the Horse and Groom continues to offer take-away food four days a week
Tel 01435 830320 ~ Facebook @horseandgroomsussex

Go to the Warbleton Parish Council website for a detailed explanation of the Community Right to Bid nomination: