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Historic community pub in London set to inspire others

5 November 2019

Volunteers behind a community owned pub in South East London – which was the first of its kind in the city – are set to inspire other communities to save their pubs by sharing their story and experiences.

The Ivy House in Nunhead has been a community owned pub since 2013, when it was saved from the brink of destruction and became the first in London. It is now supported by 425 members and hosts a range of services for all ages – from baby and toddler groups to children’s drama classes, quiz nights to wedding receptions, adult dance classes and jazz nights.

Volunteers from the Ivy House will be joined at the More Than A Pub event on Tuesday 5th November by others who have similar experiences of setting up and running a community pub.

In April 2012 the Ivy House was closed down and subsequently sold to a property developer who had drawn up plans to gut the historic pub interior and turn the entire building over to residential accommodation. A dedicated group of community volunteers prevented the destruction and raised a million pounds through a mixture of loan and grant finance to buy the freehold, and re-opened The Ivy House. Of this the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) supported the Ivy House, a Grade II listed building, to raise £550,000 loan finance towards the purchase of the freehold. You can read the full story here.

Emily Dresner, from The Ivy House, said: “We are really pleased to be hosting pub groups working on the exciting project of saving their local and managing it for their community. We always enjoy sharing our experience of the journey from closure to community ownership. It’s also great for us to be able to offer an urban perspective and the particular challenges this brings for communities wanting to save pubs in a not-so-leafy setting, which are every bit as special as their rural counterparts.”

Andy Richardson, Head of Investment at the AHF, said: “The funding and survival of The Ivy House was a game-changer for pubs across the country. That it was London's first co-operatively owned pub, the first pub in the UK to be listed as an Asset of Community Value, and the first building to be bought under the "community right to bid" provisions of the Localism Act, showed that not just the fabric of a Grade II listed building can be saved but also that it can thrive as a community resource. At the time, this was an unconventional request for social investment for the AHF, but such was the obvious merit of the project, the clarity of vision of the steering group and the enthusiasm of the local community, we were delighted to provide a significant level of loan finance. Subsequently, we have swapped a part of this loan for community shares and I believe the AHF is now the Ivy House’s largest shareholder, underlining our continuing commitment to the enterprise.”

The More than a Pub programme provides business development support and finance to enable the community ownership of pubs in both rural and urban communities across England.

To find out how the AHF can support your community enterprise journey in raising finance in order to save a historic pub from closure to community ownership please get in touch with our Investment Team here

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