A HISTORIC pub that closed during the Covid lockdown could be turned into housing if the community don’t raise £1million by Christmas.

The Bell pub in Odiham, which was originally licensed in 1509 and is one of the oldest pubs in Hampshire, was sold to Carlin Capital when the previous owners retired.

The pub was available for sale for more than two years but with no buyers the developers are asking Hart District Council for planning permission to convert the pub into three houses.

Since then officers agreed to freeze the application and give the community three months to buy the pub back.

Basingstoke Gazette: The Bell pub before it closed The Bell pub before it closed

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In 2021 parish councillor Kathryn Ball led a campaign to save The Bell and 350 residents signed a petition to retain it as a pub. It was also registered as an asset of community value.

Cllr Helen Tyler from Odiham Parish Council told the Gazette that the pub can still be saved.

She added: “We are looking for people to pledge to buy shares (£200 each) by September 21. Once we have enough, we will negotiate a price with the developer.

“My goal is to complete the deal by Christmas and if we fail then Hart [Hart District Council] will approve the conversion of the pub to houses.

"If we get enough momentum behind it, which I believe we already do, I really think we can save it.

“We really have had so much community support already from people who love the pub.”

She said a variety of different groups have expressed support, including local tradesmen, shop owners and the church choir.

The property is currently advertised for sale on Carlin Capital's website for offers starting at £500,000

Basingstoke Gazette: The historic building The historic building

Cllr Tyler said that if the council approves the developers plans, then it is likely that they would stop advertising the pub for sale.

A spokesperson from Carlin Capital added: "This beautiful old property was on the market for quite some time before our purchase with no approach from the local community or any publicans or breweries. Unfortunately due to its state of repair and significant remedial work needed, the investment required, for what was not a viable concern, is a sad a reflection of the current situation across the UK as the traditional/historic ‘pub culture’ has evolved and of course on the back of a global pandemic. 

"We are committed to ensuring the heritage feature of this historic building is preserved for generations to come, in a format that will support the local community and its families. It is too often seen that such buildings no longer evolve with their communities and fall to such an ill state of repair they have no future, we very much want to avoid that happening here and that is why a sympathetic change of use is the ideal situation.

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Basingstoke Gazette:

They continued: "After nearly two years of it being available for sale with ourselves since our ownership and the local parish council and Odiham Society both confirming they did not wish to purchase, and also confirming they knew of no local interest wishing to purchase, we believe it is the suitable time for this change of use. After extensive work by our specialist listed building consultant, who is highly experienced in this field of work ensuring conservation needs are always met, our design and layout of the proposed conversion was at stage that it could be supported by the local authority.

"Of course, now that a few members of the community led by Cllr Helen Tyler, have an interest in ‘saving The Bell’, they will quite rightly have every opportunity to submit their offers, in line with the ACV (actual cash value) in place. We have facilitated a number of viewings for them and very much look forward to hearing further about their exciting proposal."