Community fights back as pub is bought by supermarket chain

Members of the campaign to save the Lord Nelson.

Members of the campaign to save the Lord Nelson. - Credit: Archant

A historic village pub has served its final pint after a sale to a supermarket franchise was agreed.

The Lord Nelson Pub at Cleeve.

The Lord Nelson Pub at Cleeve. - Credit: Archant

The Lord Nelson, in Cleeve’s Main Road, closed last week with owners Greene King poised to sell to Tout Ltd, which runs Budgens stores in Langford and Nailsea.

The village’s only pub operated as a Hungry Horse, but was put up for sale in September with an asking price of £625,000. A sale is now due to be completed on December 9 and a spokesman for Greene King said it is trying to find alternative roles for its ‘fantastic’ staff where possible.

Jon Tout, of Tout Ltd, said: “We will then begin public consultation to understand how the site can be developed in the best way.

“We are a small, community-focused, family business and we have always been keen to explore new opportunities, which best serve the communities we are in.”

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Regulars serenaded the pub’s final evening with a karaoke night, but some are not giving up yet – a campaign to save the pub has begun, with a petition earning 300 backers.

Ian Fergusson, Cleeve resident and campaign spokesman, said: “After years of neglect by Greene King – with no real attempt to either improve the pub or ensure survival as a going concern – our Lord Nelson pub has been closed.

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“Some 200 years of history and heritage risks being wiped out by developers who have no interest in maintaining the social fabric of Cleeve and the character of our village risks being irrevocably changed.”

The campaign hopes to convince North Somerset Council to list the pub as a community asset, which ‘will help curtail or prevent demolition or other change to the pub’.

Mr Fergusson added: “We hope this allows time for a caring, village-focused owner to save the Lord Nelson and return it to the sort of community asset that was valued by so many people in the decades prior to Greene King’s calamitous tenure.”

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