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Threat to The Rose and Crown, St Michaels

Written by Iain Loe

Punch Tavern owned Rose and Crown, St Michaels, St Albans is threatened with permanent closure following the decision of the pub group to put the pub up for sale with no guarantee that it would remain a pub.

The pub is listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) by St Albans City and District Council. A 5-year listing was achieved in October 2016 with the help the South Herts branch of CAMRA.

The pub has been closed for most of the last year after the previous leaseholder handed back the keys. And, although the lease has been up for sale since, there have been no takers. The announcement that the freehold of the pub had now been put up for sale triggered the clause in the ACV allowing any concerned residents group to apply to buy the pub.

Residents of St Michaels held a meeting on the 5th September and agreed to contact St Albans City and District Council to notify them that they wished to apply to buy the pub.

An action group is being formed with Bill Free, the vice-chair of The Society of St Michaels and Kingsbury, the local residents association, elected as chair.

Now the difficult part starts, to officially form a group to acquire the pub and begin the task of the raising the money to make the purchase.

The Rose and Crown was a regular entrant in several past editions of the Good Beer Guide and an interior sketch of the pub was featured on the front cover of the 1989 edition.

However since the pub has been owned by pub company Punch, it has struggled to perform under the burdens imposed by the high rent and full beer tie.

The current leasehold is currently being offered with an in-going of £110,00 and annual rent of £43,000 for the remaining three years of a full-repairing and insurance rolling lease with a full beer tie.

An unofficial valuation of the pub is believed to be somewhere north of £900,000.

The local South Herts branch of CAMRA is fully supportive of the residents’ attempt to buy the pub. Branch chair Iain Loe said that the branch will be giving what help and advice is necessary.

“St Michaels, which is close to the City’s Roman Verulamium Museum, used to have four pubs, two have closed in recent years for conversion to residential use, we would not want to see the village’s pub stock reduced to just one” said Loe.

“St Michaels is an attractive tourist destination, with a sizeable residential population and can easily support two pubs” he continued.

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