Historic New Forest pub relisted as community asset

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king rufus eling
The King Rufus is currently closed until a new owner is confirmed

SUPPORTERS of a historic pub near Totton have secured its future by having it re-registered as a community asset for a further five years.

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The King Rufus in Eling Hill, Eling, which dates back to the 1850s, was previously listed as an asset of community value (ACV) in 2015.

The Community Right to Bid, which is part of the Localism Act 2011, allows local community organisations to nominate land or buildings of community value. Such nominated land may be listed by the council and if so, when it is sold, local community groups will have a fairer chance to bid for it on the open market.

New Forest District Council has now approved the application by the King Rufus Eling Supporters, a group of 21 individuals who want the pub to be retained.

The owners, Ray and Phillipa Goold, are currently in the process of selling the pub but in correspondence with NFDC said they are not against decision to renew the ACV.

The district council’s executive head of operations, Colin Read, who approved the renewal, said in a report: “It seems reasonable to conclude that whilst the Covid restrictions may have led to closure in the short term – as many pubs have been in the same period – use by the community can continue in the near future.

“Indeed, there is no evidence submitted by any locals to contradict the current evidence to hand that it is an asset of community value in the sense of being supported by the local community. It seems reasonable to assume the present owner is seeking to sell the property as a going concern, i.e. with a long-term future as a pub or restaurant.”

The application was supported by both district councillors for the area, Cllr David Harrison and Cllr Caroline Rackham.

Cllr Harrison said: “Pubs are disappearing at an alarming rate up and down the country. Over the years a few have been lost in Totton, including The White Swan, The Red Lion and the Village Bells, which was located directly opposite the King Rufus.

“Pubs are an essential part of what helps bind communities. It would be a tragedy if the King Rufus closed and was allowed to become another residential property.”

Cllr Rackham, who is also an Eling resident, added: “The King Rufus is a very different character of pub and so has provided a very particular community need for a small community meeting space, rather than the busier and often noisier Anchor.

“This means that the King Rufus acts as an excellent venue for small scale community events such as quiz nights and group meals. It is also a great space for encouraging conversation so has often pulled the community together and it would be very detrimental for the area were it to change use.”

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