AN HISTORIC building on a high street in a Moorlands town has been recommended to be approved as being registered as a community asset. The Friends of the Royal Oak recently lodged a community asset bid to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) for the Royal Oak Hotel located on Cheadle High Street, with the aim of making the venue somewhere that can be used by the public. In October 2019, David Gough Investments submitted proposals to build 12 one-bedroom flats and one two-bedroom flat at the former hospitality venue.
The applicant had previously been granted permission by SMDC to construct ten apartments and two offices in October 2015.
A community asset bid allows communities to nominate buildings or land for listing by the local authority as an asset of community value.
If the asset comes up for sale, the community can ‘pause’ the sale and take up to six months to find the funding required to buy the asset.
The Cabinet Member for Communities at SMDC is set to assess the community asset application for The Royal Oak via delegated powers today (Wednesday, April 8) after officers have recommended the bid for approval.
A report to cabinet members stated: “The council received a nomination on February 14, 2020 from Friends of the Royal Oak Community Group that the Royal Oak, 68 High Street, Cheadle should be listed as an Asset of Community Value.
“Officers have assessed the nomination and confirmed that the Friends of the Royal Oak Community Group is eligible to make the nomination and the land and buildings are not exempt from listing.”
The report also stated: “The land and buildings were used in the recent past to further the social well-being and social interests of the local community and this use was not ancillary.
“According to case law, the interpretation of recent is within the context of how long a building has been of community value.
“As this property has existed as a public house for over 200 years, then a closure period of seven years should be considered relatively ‘recent’.”
“It is realistic to think that the building or land will continue to be used in a way which will further the social well-being and social interests of the community within the next five years.
“Accordingly, the council’s officers have assessed that the criteria for listing have been met and recommend that the Royal Oak be listed as an Asset of Community Value.”
Prior to its closing, the venue was used for various purposes, including being a public house and hosting recreational, sporting and language classes.
Its function room was also used for parties and weddings.
In an ‘Assets of Community Value Assessment Form’ it stated that the applicants had “advised that Cheadle town is in need of a community space for people to meet and socialise,” and that “the only facility of any similarity – The Guild Hall – is heavily subscribed.”
The document continued: “Should the property be sold, and the group finds the funds to purchase and renovate the building, examples of the types of use the building could have are: an arts/heritage centre, café and meeting/function rooms.
“Cheadle Town Council is supportive of the pub being listed as an Asset of Community Value and support has also been received by one of the district councillors for this area.
“It is hoped that the building could be a fully operational community hub within three to five years.
“However, some parts of the property could come into use within 12 months.
“Therefore, it is considered realistic to think that building could be used in a way which will further the social well-being and social interests of the community within five years.”
Friends of the Royal Oak member Andy Maxfield told the Times and Echo that the recommendation for approval was “great news.”
He said: “If it does get approval then that is fantastic news for the town.
“We want to turn it (the Royal Oak) into a B&B with maybe a cafe-type place with some sort of social space for the community.
“We are aiming for somewhere between ten and 12 beds for the B&B and also maybe a mid-scale restaurant at the back end.
“Hopefully on the middle floor we can have space for classes and coffee mornings – things like that.
“We have many ideas but I haven’t been inside the building yet.
“The problem we’ve got is that the building is pretty derelict inside so its all about finding funds to do all of this.
“If we are successful we wouldn’t do it to make profit out of it but if we do end up getting profit from it then wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could buy the old market place and regenerate that?
“That way we could use the money generated from the Royal Oak back in the community.”
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