A project to create a community hub is already living up to its aims as work starts on the Blue Bell pub in Cocking.
Initial construction has begun on refitting the pub in Church Lane, which will eventually feature a café, a pub, a bed and breakfast, as well as a post office and shop.
Months of fundraising, planning and facilitating the project have created a buzz of anticipation around the new community hub, said Frances Russell, who has been helping on the steering committee.
“What’s really exciting is just in doing the project, the amount of enthusiasm it’s raised in the community.
“There’s a real buzz in the village and the community are really coming together and people are getting to know people they would never meet before.
“There’s a new feeling in the village, a community feeling. I think that’s something that we hoped the community hub would deliver but actually just doing the project is doing that, people are really enjoying it.”
She said the project was ‘moving very quickly’ for its size with builders moving in this week to begin the internal refurbishment works.
A planning application has also been made for the technical aspects of creating disabled access points and works to the pub annex to set up the post office and village shop.
Blue Bell Community Benefit Society bought the building for £500,000 and with a shareholder offering and donations coming in from quiz nights and barbeques, the vision is finally taking shape.
“People are seeing what we’re doing and saying, ‘perhaps we could do that in our village’,” Frances said.
“The builders moving in this week was quite a big step.
“People are starting to believe this is going to happen, it’s not something we’re just talking about.”
Fundraising is continuing towards the refurbishment. It’s estimated £150,000 is needed for the next stage, of which £50,000 has been raised so far.
Work is needed to relocate the pub bar, revamp the kitchen and toilet facilities, create accommodation and redecorate.
The next fundraising event will be a barbeque and entertainment at Cocking Village Hall on Saturday, from 6pm to 10.30pm. Visit www.bluebellhub.org for details.