The Ivy House pub – the first community owned pub

The Ivy House pub in South London was possibly the first place in the country to be listed as an Asset of Community Value using the Community Right to Bid. The fight to save this historic pub has paid off with the pub being brought into community ownership in March 2013.

The Ivy House in Nunhead was a well-loved South London local, with a splendid 1930s interior and a place in music history, with acts including Elvis Costello and Joe Strummer having played on its stage.

In April 2012, the owner, Enterprise Inns, announced it was selling the pub. Local resident Tessa Blunden, a regular visitor to the Ivy House, and others equally devastated by the pending closure, rallied round.

However, the community purchase of such a property, on the market for offers in the region of £750,000, has not proved straightforward. In October 2012 Enterprise Inns sold the Ivy House at auction to a businessman, who then put it back on the market.

With the Right to Bid just in force, they were able to get the Ivy House listed as an asset of community value, and in the nick of time to prevent it going back to auction.

The Right to Bid gave the Save the Ivy House campaign a moratorium period of six months. Raising a sum of around £750,000 in six months was a daunting proposition. They were thrilled when the Architectural Heritage Fund offered them conditional loan finance of £500,000 and they were successful in securing a grant through the My Community Rights programme.

The Plunkett Foundation gave them business support, legal advice and help with a community share issue. By offering the community shares in the pub, this has provided working capital and given local people a financial stake in the enterprise. They exceeded their target of £100,000 raising an impressive £142,600 from 371 shareholders.

In less than a year the local community pulled together and achieved a great deal. The Ivy House pub re-opened in August 2013 and is now building a reputation as one of London’s finest real ale and craft beer pubs, and as a venue for music and other live events.

Read about the challenges of saving an urban vs. a village pub in this Guardian article.

Save your local pub using the community rights

Since the introduction of the Localism Act 2011, new laws have come into power that can help you save your local pub from closure, sale or demolition.

Nominating your local pubs as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) can pause the sale of a building for up to six months while the community consider options for saving it.

Read more about what options are available by accessing our Community Pubs Kit – a selection of resources to get you started.