A Soham pub threatened with closure could be turned into a community hub if a council idea wins backing
PUBLISHED: 16:43 27 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:43 27 February 2018
A community is rallying to save a pub from being turned into a house despite it being on the market for two years with just three viewings.
The Carpenter’s Arms is one of four pubs left in Soham but after massively dropping its price tag the owner says it has had little interest since going up for sale in October 2015.
Matthew Killick slashed the Brook Street pub’s price from £495,000 to £375,000 but after no interest, coupled with health issues, he says he hopes to get planning permission to turn it into a house.
The application has prompted a passionate outpouring from local politicians who want it to become an asset of community value (ACV) and raise the money needed to protect it for the future.
Councillor Carol Sennitt, backed by all Soham district councillors, said: “With all the pending residential developments down that end of town it would be a great loss.
“Eventually Soham’s population will be around 17,000 people, we feel it is short sighted to lose this business and community social area.
“A business that has thrived for many years to be changed to a residential building would be disappointing.”
“We have lost many public houses in Soham, and including the Carpenters Arms, we have only four left.
However, Martin Smith, the business development manager for Enterprise East Cambs, said that: “The owners have clearly struggled to maintain the business,” and with “declining footfall, lack of competitive edge and an off the beaten track frontage,” the decline in turnover has pushed them to their decision.
He said: “From a purely commercial view it would seem difficult to argue against a change of use.”
He added that any change of use would need at least a year of marketing to see if a future owner could be found.
Soham Town clerk Dan Marshall has written to planners at East Cambs District Council asking them to protect “this vital and valuable asset” by considering an application to be listed as an asset of community value.
Thrift Soham Community Land trust have lodged an interest to take it over as a community pub: “Because we are very concerned at the loss of yet another pub in Soham.”
They have asked for more time to make sure the idea is feasible.
The matter will go under the spotlight at a meeting on Wednesday March 7.