A CLOSED-DOWN pub dating back 150 years is to be brought back to life after a campaign by regulars.
The community in Mutley rallied to block a plan to turn the historic Hyde Park Hotel into an estate agents.
Now the historic pub is to reopen after locals, including the former landlord, fought to get it listed as a “community asset.”
The Localism Act 2011 allows community groups to make applications for buildings of local worth to be listed and protected.
Steve Bowen, landlord for the 18 months before it was sold, said it was good news that the purpose-built 1860s pub had been saved.
Mr Bowen put together a committee of 22 people which then sent an application to the council last February.
He also set up a petition and received over 400 signatures from members of the local community, as well as reaching out to over 350 people via a campaign on social networking site Facebook.
The council ratified the move to secure it as a community asset in April.
Mr Bowen said: “The Hyde Park will remain a pub and I’m thrilled to pieces with that and what the committee did.
“I have no doubt I will be in there on its opening day for a pint. I still live around there and it’s my local.
“I made a commercial offer for the pub but I didn’t get it. I can’t comment on the new landlord’s vision for the premises but I wish him all the best. I just wish it had been me that could have made it into the dream pub I wanted it to be.”
Robin Reip, a director of the family company Sormoss Limited, which owns the property, said they were shocked to have been served the community asset listing notice.
Plymouth City Council wrote to the company stating the ground floor of the Hyde Park must be retained as a pub. Sormoss, who purchased the property in January, had originally wanted to turn it into office space and let it to a local estate agent.
Mr Reip said Sormoss had appealed the council’s decision, but unsuccessfully.
Hyde Park Flat Management Limited, set up in August, has taken over the running of the property.
The company has been leased the property and is in the midst of refurbishing. Sormoss’ original plan to turn the top two floors into mansion flats remains intact.
“The requirement is to retain the ground floor as a pub,” Mr Reip said. “That is the result of the council’s action in listing it.
“We had our plan to make it into an office. Financially it worked perfectly.
“Out of the blue a letter arrived saying we couldn’t do that. We suffered a serious setback. The immediate reaction was one of frustration and acute disappointment.”
“We are pressing on now pretty vigorously with refurbishment of the ground floor and basement, making it into a pub which will serve food. There’s still some way to go.”
He said discussions with Plymouth historian Chris Robinson and Rob Hillman, the pub’s landlord in the 1980’s, convinced him to back the pub idea.
“Chris very kindly agreed to meet us and explained the history of the place. He said it had been a pub for a very long time and that was its true raison d'etre.”
Emma Pope, director of Hyde Park Flat Management Ltd, said she hoped to see the doors open by late January or early February.
She said: “We want to keep it traditional. The Hyde Park is one of the oldest pubs in Plymouth.
“We are hoping to go down a mirco-brewery route selling real ales and brewing our own.
“When sitting down and thinking about the concept, we were looking back to what it once was. In the 70’s it was really booming and we want to take it back to that. We are trying to go down a historical route and make it a bit retro.”
A chandelier has been purchased from the former Astor Hotel on the Hoe to be hung in the 19th century pub, Ms Pope said.
Sormoss Limited was granted planning permission to erect an outside wooden deck in August. The work is now nearing completion. It has entailed converting a window to a doorway to allow for access.
Former landlord Mr Bowen, who now runs the Stoke Inn, said the loss of the top floors to make way for residential flats would effect how the community use the venue.
“The first floor had a function room and that will be lost. I used to have the Friends of Ford Park Cemetery, the Friends of Central Park and all sorts of community meetings up there,” he said.
“But in fairness, even if I had been successful in taking it over I would have had to do the same. It simply wouldn’t be viable otherwise.”
A spokeswoman for Plymouth City Council confirmed the licence had been handed over to the new owners.
She said: “The new landlord made an application to transfer the premises licence into their name. This was done in March when the premises were sold.
“The pub is on the community asset register. It was submitted on February 22, by Save the Hyde Park Pub Group.”