Residents are ‘delighted’ that a disused pub is to re-open after plans to convert it into homes were dropped and it was sold to a new owner.
Amberley’s The Black Horse pub has been the centre of village debate for 15 months after property developer Paul Marston, of Hirsh Marston Ltd, bought the closed venue and revealed plans to convert it into two holiday homes.
However, the listed building has now been sold to media mogul Paul Smith, who is behind the TV show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?.
Residents who formed the Black Horse Action Group, which has been campaigning to re-establish the pub in the community and offered to pay £500,000 to purchase the site, can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
Chairman of The Black Horse Action Group Jeff Feakins said: “We are absolutely delighted with the outcome and that Amberley has managed to save another of its historic features.
“It is not only an essential part of village life but a major attraction for the many visitors to Amberley - walkers, cyclists and those by car.
“We are confident that the Black Horse is secured for the long term and we wish the new owner and management every success for the future.”
Mr Marston’s application to convert the pub into two adjoining holiday homes was rejected by Horsham District Council and later a public planning inquiry was held to address the concerns of the community.
Residents argued that the next closest pub was a treacherous walk along an unlit road, leaving locals without a social hub to meet and enjoy a meal.
In a letter to Amberley residents, Mr Smith reassured people that the pub would be re-opened and given ‘a very fresh look and ambiance’.
He said: “Cregagh Properties will lease The Black Horse to an operating company that is yet to be established and which will be owned by me along with Angus Davies (general manager) and Dan Howes (executive chef).
“My background is the entertainment business but as the years have progressed my interests have broadened.
“ The renovation of your village pub will be carried out to the highest standard and we intend to utilise every corner of the space contained within the buildings, to create as much as possible of that which the local community and visitors will demand.”
Former motion picture production designer Roger Hall will be involved in the new look, which is promised to be sympathetic to its period.