The Swan has been a key feature of our village for more than 220 years, but two years ago it closed and a planning application was submitted to convert the building into multiple residencies. More than 100 people objected, and ever since we have campaigned tirelessly to Save Our Swan!
We have agreed a sale price with the owner and now have a once-in -a-lifetime chance for people to buy shares in the White Swan and transform it into a community-owned, professionally run the pub at the heart of our village.
We need £185,000 to buy the pub and a further £45,000 alongside a grant package to completely refurbish the building as it has had no investment for more than 30 years. That brings the total amount needed to £230,000. It's a big ask, but we're confident that with your help we can achieve our goal!
Two years ago we established the Gressenhall Community Enterprise as a Community Benefit Society and secured a Community Asset order on the pub. We immediately started to work up plans to transform the old Swan into a vibrant hub for the village.
We've built a loyal and committed band of local supporters by organising social gatherings, quizzes and events (pre-Covid!) on our village Green. Our pop-up pub, The Cygnet, has served delicious cocktails made from locally produced syrups, and beer from a local brewery.
We ran a survey asking local people what makes an ideal pub. The we put some of their ideas into a virtual reality 'fly through' of what our transformed pub could look like. We passed the VR headsets around and we all got a little dizzy and very excited!
"That was cool - can you imagine if we could have a pub like that in our village?!"
"This use of virtual reality has given a rare and inspiring glimpse into the much hoped for future of this pub. The Gressenhall project group have found a very innovative way to showcase exactly what The White Swan could look like under community ownership. It is a great way to share their vision and get feedback from their local community." Hannah Barrett, senior project manager, Plunkett Foundation
The hard work of local people is being recognised and rewarded as we continue to build awareness of the campaign.
ITV Anglia recently ran a lovely piece about us. You can watch it here ...
We've also been encouraged by the support of our local media and MP.
"Pubs are so often at the heart of our communities and rural heritage, playing a key part in keeping villages vibrant. That's why I am fully supportive of the efforts by residents of Gressenhall to save The Swan - and why, like them, I am looking forward to buying a share myself!" George Freeman MP.
... and we were absolutely delighted to have won the 'One to Watch' award in the Plunkett Foundation Community Business Awards.
In August we launched a share offer for local people to buy shares to raise the money to buy the pub. One share costs just £50 with the maximum investment being £25,000. The response has been encouraging with more than £150,000 invested by more than 100 investors in the first few weeks. But we've still a long way to go.
So, with just weeks left to raise the money to buy the pub, we are widening the offer and opening it up to more people who would like to own part of a great pub in a great community!
First, you should read our Business Plan and Share Prospectus which are at the bottom of this page. Then you simply select your level of investment opposite at the top of this page and follow the simple instructions right through to making payment. You can choose to stay anonymous if you wish. It couldn't be easier!
- Well, you get to own a bit of a great pub in a great community. How fantastic is that?
- As a share owner, you also get a vote which means you can help shape the future of the pub.
- You may also have the opportunity to reclaim 30% of your investment value as our share prospectus has been accredited for Social Investment Tax Relief for UK taxpayers.
- And from year 3 of business, we anticipate paying an annual interest rate of 2%, subject to trading performance.
- Finally, you'll get the feel good factor of knowing you have helped to safeguard the future of the last pub in Gressenhall and an important piece of our village history!
If this project fails to raise enough money to buy the pub then we will have lost a once in a lifetime opportunity to reinvigorate the core of our village. We lose our chance to create a valuable village asset that provides a welcoming place to meet, eat, drink and share, and which can help build and bind the community, and prevent loneliness and exclusion. If we fail to buy the pub it will almost certainly become residential buildings in the future and we will have lost the very last pub in our village. It will be the end of an era.