VILLAGERS have won their battle with television presenter and DJ Chris Evans to save the historic Lickfold Inn.
The boarded-up Lodsworth pub has been bought by new owners who plan to reopen it as a pub. Chris Evans bought it in 2007 but closed it again three years later, claiming he could ‘no longer justify keeping the pub open’.
Since then it has been boarded up and allowed to fall into disrepair.
Angry villagers, fearing it would be sold as a house, mounted a strong campaign to save the pub which was up for sale for £775,000 and are this week celebrating victory after hearing the news the new owners plan to re-open it.
A spokesman for Clarke Gammon Wellers estate agents said: “They will be moving in on July 1 and they are looking forward to re-opening it as a pub, and supporting the community.”
Parishioners are ‘thrilled, excited and relieved’, said Lodsworth Parish Council chairman Caroline Neville.
“I think at the moment it may just have to be ‘watch this space’.”
“The action group is very, very happy their work has had the desired outcome,” she added, thanking the Observer for its support.
“A large team of workmen have already gone in to repair the damage from a leaking roof, that caused water to drip through ceiling light fittings and lovely old floorboards.
“The parish wishes to thank Elizabeth Hamilton, our district councillor, who kept this sad state of affairs high up on the agenda.”
Save the Lickfold member Maria Diamond worked with the five-strong campaign team which had the backing of the parish council and the community. “It’s great news,” she said.
“It’s nice to see life there again, and it’s moving at quite a pace.
A spokesman for Mr Evans said: “I can confirm the pub has been sold and completion will take place in a few weeks time. It is a relief to have sold the property.
“Although residents registered their interest in buying the pub, at the final moment they decided not to, so we were left with no choice but to sell it to a third party.”