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12-11-2015, 13:31
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The High Grove (http://whatpub.com/pubs/MAS/4263/high-grove-gatley) is a Hydes pub in the middle of a housing estate in Gatley, one of Stockport’s satellite villages. Apparently Hydes want to sell it off for residential development, which has resulted in a successful campaign by the locals to have it registered as an Asset of Community Value.
However, I would say it is unlikely either that another pub operator will come in to bid for it, or that the locals will be able to raise enough money to buy it. Hydes have made an effort with it over the years, and I’ve been in a few times and found it pleasant enough. But there’s a general problem that pubs in the middle of residential areas, with no passing trade, just seem to be dead ducks. The widespread belief that such pubs have a guaranteed trade is what I call the “chimneypots fallacy”.
A further factor here is that the approach roads in both directions have been given a particularly savage set of road humps. That will deter all but the most determined out-of-area person from visiting, whereas Holts’ Griffin a mile away on a major road junction has no such constraints. It has to be recognised that, in suburban areas, a high proportion of pub customers arrive by car, and with few exceptions are not breaking the law by doing so.
I’ve long since learned that I have a very poor crystal ball when it comes to predicting the future of individual pubs. But, unless Hydes change their minds, I’d be amazed if the High Grove was still trading in a year’s time. ACVs give pubs a breathing space, but they are no guarantee of survival, and in some cases may simply lead to planning blight. A micropub or box bar might succeed in that location, but a big pub with all the associated overheads is going to struggle.
It would be ironic if, across the country, community groups ended up paying pubcos large sums of money to buy “threatened” pubs that in a few years’ time proved not to be viable after all. It can work for some pubs (and I speak as a shareholder in a community-owned pub), but it won’t work for all, especially the bigger ones.

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