The Yarcombe Inn, close to the church on the A30  
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Yarcombe Inn - Your Questions Answered
 

 Why does it matter whether or not we save the Yarcombe Inn?

A   The Yarcombe Inn is the heart of Yarcombe, the building that symbolises our community, its history and its beauty.   When people from elsewhere think of us, they think of the Yarcombe Inn.   More than that it is the last remaining place in the village that was open to the public on a daily basis.   At one time Yarcombe had a village school, village shop, the Yarcombe Inn and other businesses that formed part of community life.   If the Inn is lost then we will have lost our last chance of having a community hub in the centre of the village for people to meet, entertain, shop and stay.   Property values in areas with community facilities tend to be higher than those where there are none.

Q   The Inn has a chequered recent past and pubs are closing everywhere.   Why do you think you can do any better?

A   We accept that the concept of the village pub serving just the Yarcombe community is not sustainable.   To succeed today a pub generally needs to have a thriving food business or have some other thing that attracts customers.  We have therefore opted for a facility that serves our community, but which also sustains itself on passing and visitor trade.   The Yarcombe Inn's position on the A30 and just off the A303 is a major advantage.   We see the Inn as a community hub providing a pub and café and a tea room and a bistro as well as a retail business and a B&B.   Our business plan based on this model looks very convincing.

Q   The Yarcombe Inn is an old building with a big maintenance overhead.   The thatched roof looks like a big liability and the different floor levels are a health and safety concern.   This had proved a problem in the past, why will it be better in future?

A   One of the advantages of the Inn being owned by the community is that it would be eligible for Heritage Lottery Fund grants to restore it, discover its heritage and make it fit for purpose for the 21st century.   We would envisage working with HLF on a restoration project to bring it up to standard as a listed building that is totally accessible to the community.

Q   I hear that the Parish Council intends to borrow money to fund the purchase of the Inn.   Won’t that just push up the Council tax?

A   The Parish Council is eligible to borrow money for long periods (up to 50 years) at very low interest rates.   The costs will be much lower than for a purely commercial enterprise.   Our plan would be to repay any loans out of the proceeds of the business so we would not intend to put up the Council tax to pay for it.

Q   If the Business Plan is so good, who is going to be making money out of it?

A   The building will be owned in perpetuity by the Parish Council but will be leased to a new community benefit society which will oversee its operation.   The community benefit society will offer community shares which anyone in the community can buy.   All shareholders in a community benefit society have an equal vote irrespective of how much they have invested.   The community benefit society can pay interest but not pay dividends.   Apart from offering shareholders some interest on their investment we expect that any profits will either be ploughed back into the business or otherwise used to provide benefits for the Yarcombe and Marsh resident.   So, if money is made we expect it to come back to the community.
 

 

How might the future look?

 

How might the future Yarcombe Inn look and be managed should the village be successful in purchasing the pub building and site?

The Steering Group has very clear objectives in mind whilst keeping its thoughts, strategies and tactics very much open to the ideas and suggestions from the village and wider community.

The Steering Group wants to be imaginative, innovative and ambitious -- which is the reason why one of its three key sub-groups is focused exclusively on devising the best and most sustainable structure and commercial mechanism for taking the project forward.

Explains Parish Council chairman Nick Randle, who also heads the project steering group:

‘We want to create something which the whole community feels is appropriate and useful. It has to be something which definitely incorporates a pub but it also has to have an appeal across all age ranges and be relevant and compelling for all sorts of different interests.

‘Above all else, we believe that, if handled right, this can be a transformational step forward for Yarcombe. It can give us back our community focus and rich community spirit which sadly has been under pressure in recent years.’

 ‘In order to qualify for grants it will also need to appeal to the wider East Devon, West Dorset and South Somerset communities and to passers-by and visitors to the Blackdown Hills.

‘Most importantly, it has to be financially viable and able to properly pay its way.’

With this in mind the Enterprise/Business Planning Sub Committee, under the leadership of Dennis Abel, is looking closely at the merits of setting up a community enterprise company or village co-operative to act as the overall directors of the day to day management of the building.

One possible plan would be for them to then lease out various units within the building or bring in managers to operate them on the village co-operative’s behalf.

With the bistro pub -- probably sited at the lych-gate end of the building – as the core element, separate units could be created for a micro brewery; village bakery and farm shop/post office; a cafe/tea room selling farmhouse food; visitor-centre and tourism business hub; B&B; rural businesses; an arts and craft shop and even a small care home for the elderly of the community.

‘These are just our initial thoughts which have not even started to be developed or examined yet.   No doubt people out there will have their own ideas which they think will work.   Perhaps some people even want to put themselves forward to run the units, says Dennis Abel .

‘Whatever it is we very much want everyone to be excited and energised by the prospect of what we can do with the Yarcombe Inn site and come forward and give us their thoughts and support.   We truly want to make it the dynamic hub of the village and the parish.’