MORE than £900,000 of government money has been awarded to a campaign group set up to save an historic pub in Odiham.

As previously reported, 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 up for sale for more than two years but with no buyers, developers planned to turn it into houses.

During a Hart District Council planning committee meeting held Wednesday, December 14, the application was refused.

READ MORE: The Bell pub: Appeal turn pub into three homes thrown out

Basingstoke Gazette: MP Ranil Jayawardena has welcomed the new funding from the Government

A group bidding to save it has now revealed that it has been awarded a £995,000 grant to buy, repair and renovate it.

A post on the Saving the Bell in The Bury Facebook page reads: "GRANT SUCCESS: we’ve been awarded a £995,000 grant to buy, repair and renovate The Bell. We have pledges from supporters to raise £200,000 match funding. Thank you to all our supporters."

MP Ranil Jayawardena has welcomed the new government funding from the expanded £150m Community Ownership Fund, as part of its plan to level up the country.

He said: "I know from speaking to those across North East Hampshire the vital role that pubs, clubs, and sports grounds play in establishing a sense of community. I am, therefore, delighted that the Government has saved The Bell pub by Community Ownership Fund, making sure this beloved local establishment is protected for this generation and the next.

“I know people North East Hampshire will also be thrilled to hear our local bid was successful, showing that our plan is working as we continue to level up the country to secure a brighter future for our community.”

Carlin Capital did appeal the decision but following a hearing which was held on Tuesday, September 19 it was dismissed by an inspector on Friday, October 20.

Speaking to the Gazette after Cllr Helen Tyler, who had been leading a campaign to save the pub said "the positive power of pulling together as a community paid off". 

SEE ALSO: The Bell, Odiham: Residents rally round to save inn from being turned into housing

The Bell is registered as an asset of community value, which means that community groups had a six-month opportunity to raise the cash, make a bid and negotiate a contract to buy the pub.

The Government’s Community Ownership Fund is allowing community groups in North East Hampshire to take ownership of assets and amenities at risk of being lost, enabling them to run these assets for their community, safeguarding town centres and high streets as we grow the economy and secure a brighter future for our communities.

Jacob Young, Minister for Levelling Up, added: “We know how much these vital community assets mean to people across the country. They are an important lifeline for people young and old, and they’re the beating heart of our towns, cities and villages. 

“That’s why we’re stepping in to protect them with a major rescue package, so we stop these great establishments closing or being lost forever and ensure that they continue to sit at the heart of our beloved communities.”