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Community launch campaign to save pub from developers

Residents and former customers of The Black Swan in Lower Withington are trying to protect it as a community asset

Campaigners outside the Black Swan in Lower Withington

Campaigners fighting to save a village pub at the heart of a close-knit community are appealing for former customers to help save it from developers.

The Black Swan in Lower Withington was a popular meeting place until last year when it suddenly closed and was put up for sale.

Now regulars fear the countryside spot could be snapped up by property developers and are asking Cheshire East Council to list it as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ in a bid to safeguard its future.

Although their first application has been knocked back, the ‘Friends of the Black Swan’ now plan to appeal and have already received the backing of CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale.

Fionnuala Keen and Tim Pearson are spearheading the campaign and are now calling for community groups who used to use the venue to get in touch.

Fionnuala, a pharmacist who lives in the village, said: “We know that lots of groups including cyclists, book clubs and the various PTAs from local schools used to meet there regularly. But the council wants written evidence of those meetings and that’s what we don’t have.

“We’re in touch with groups in the village, but we know that others would have come from further afield such as Macclesfield, Congleton, Holmes Chapel and even Wilmslow and Alderley Edge. Because it’s a very rural area there is no other amenity – no shop, no post office – and the Black Swan was the only place that people could meet up.

“It was the real heart of the community for many years, we just don’t want to lose that and by protecting it we hope to one day see it reopen as a pub.” The ‘Asset of Community Value’ status is given to land or property deemed to be of importance to a local community and if granted would give the pub, on Trap Street, greater protection from development.

In its rejection letter the council said: “Whilst a number of groups had been identified as using the Black Swan as a public house and eating establishment, insufficient documentary evidence had been provided to support formal or group meetings and other activities that had taken place which prove the community use of the building.”

A spokesperson for Cheshire East Council said: “The original application to establish The Black Swan as an ‘asset of community value’ was rejected as the application did not meet the required criteria. We have liaised with the community group and understand that they will be making a second application in time for a steering group meeting on Monday June 5. The next decision group meeting is scheduled for Tuesday June 27.

If you can help email Fionnuala at info@keenpharmacy.co.uk or Tim at tm.pearson@me.com.

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