The Windmill in Charlton near Hitchin continues to turn, in terms of there being a growing group of active local supporters who are determined to see this much loved riverside meeting place be returned to life as a Community Pub. Whilst it remains in the ownership of a local developer who has thus far been reluctant to sell, the ‘Save the Windmill’ campaign group are confident that with the support of the local community a realistic offer can be made to purchase the pub, which is registered as a Community Asset, and develop its superb location as a thriving community hub. With local financial backing, they plan to appeal to the owner’s self-proclaimed sense of community spirit and persuade him to sell it back to the community!!
Boosted by their acceptance on the Plunkett Foundation ‘More than a Pub Programme’ the group have benefitted from support and guidance in putting a business plan together and forming a Community Benefit Society (CBS). The Windmill Community Pub Ltd is now registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and can begin to raise funds towards an initial purchase and refurbishment target of £450,000.
Phil Jarvis who leads the group explained that the CBS model of operation enables individuals within the community to have a stake in The Windmills’ future with membership of the society and an equal say in its operation being provided with the purchase of shares. He explained that the group chose this model as it spreads benefits across the whole community and has enabled scores of successful Community Pubs to reopen for business up and down the country. The group will be launching their Share Prospectus and Business Plan to the public on 24 June 7.30pm, at an open meeting at The Sun Hotel in Hitchin. Phil stressed that the Plunkett Foundation support package has enabled the group to engage experts within the business to give an independent appraisal of The Windmill’s future potential as a community pub operating as a free of tie tenancy. We have been tremendously heartened by their assurance that it could continue to serve the local community and thrive as a business.
Not content with this however, the campaign group have also looked at ways that The Windmill could adapt to local needs and unlock potential to become ‘more than a pub’. Phil stated that the group has commissioned architectural plans that show how the existing pub footprint could be better designed to double the seating and eating capacity and to maximise the riverside views. The group has also been looking at ideas for how the space could be used as a meeting place during weekdays for local groups and societies. ‘Few could argue that The Windmill Pub sits in an idyllic location, and could offer more to the community, indeed local walkers still continue to frequently pack out the car park to enjoy the country walks that start from the pub!’
The group are very grateful to local artists like Keith Hornblower whose work is shown above, who volunteered their services to illustrate how The Windmill could look with support from the community.