Landlord offers pub to Graffham villagers

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THE owner of The Forresters pub at Graffham has offered villagers the chance to take it over as a community asset.

Ray Tough has asked Graffham Parish Council if it wants to it over after struggling for 18 months to make it a going concern.

He and his wife bought it in 2014 but after ploughing money in to support the venture they finally closed on December 28.

The closure was discussed by parish councillors at a meeting on Friday.

In a statement issued afterwards they said: “At the meeting the council was told by the owners the Forresters was not for sale.

“Accordingly the council concluded that it would consider options available when the pub was formerly put on the market.”

Pub owner Mr Tough told The Observer it had closed because it had not been supported sufficiently.

“We commissioned a report with the results we feared which is simply Graffham cannot support two public houses and all its other assets.

“At the end of the day we have to be realistic. We came here with good intentions and good reviews.

“But to be fair I think these are difficult times for many village pubs.”

Mr Tough said one of the catalysts for the decision to close had been the couple’s failure to get planning permission renewed for more bed and breakfast accommodation at the pub.

Planning permission for extra letting rooms had elapsed and Mr Tough reapplied for permission last summer.

“We found the pub was struggling and we couldn’t attract new custom, but the letting side was viable and we reapplied using the same drawings and architects that had gained permission before.

“We were staggered to be told if we did not withdraw our plans they would be refused.”

Previous plans were given permission before the South Downs National Park was created.

“We wanted to have the new rooms up and running for Goodwood,” said Mr Tough, “and we have lost out of that.”

“We have made the difficult decision to close the pub, now we have to decide where to go from here.”

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