People power rescues problem Hitchin pub

Sir John Barleycorn

Sir John Barleycorn - Credit: Archant

The owner of a landmark Hitchin pub which shut in the summer has revealed the establishment is set to open its doors again – thanks to pressure from the community.

The Sir John Barleycorn pub in Oughtonhead Way – which has been part of the town’s fabric since the 19th century – is expected to be serving pints again in January, owner Punch Taverns has confirmed.

It follows a successful application to North Herts District Council for community asset status from the Oughton Community Regulars, a group of locals intent on stopping the pub being sold to developers.

The status ensures that if the pub was put up for sale, the community will be given six months to table a bid to buy it.

Speaking to the Comet, a Punch Taverns spokesman said: “There were a number of factors which led to Punch reconsidering the decision to reopen – and we can confirm the interests of the local community was one of these reasons.

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“Following the previous tenant’s exit, we have assessed the condition of the Sir John Barleycorn and are currently working on an investment scheme with a view to opening the site early in 2015. Any discussions with any prospective purchaser will remain private and confidential as part of the company policy.”

In an email to the Oughton Regulars and seen by the Comet, Punch Taverns’ estates manager said: “Obviously we do not want the pub to stagnate during the six months inertia the moratorium elicits and so its invocation has generated a reassessment within Punch and the decision has been made to retain the property and seek to reopen it.”

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