Regulars fight for future of The Lambton Arms pub in Eighton Banks

The Lambton Arms in Eighton Banks in Gateshead is currently being offered for sale by charterer surveyors Fleurets for £320,000

Campaigners Maryanne Pattison and Marc Birkett outside the closed down Lambton Arms
Campaigners Maryanne Pattison and Marc Birkett outside the closed down Lambton Arms

Regulars have taken action to head off the possibility of their pub going out of use as a community hostelry.

The Lambton Arms in Eighton Banks in Gateshead is currently being offered for sale by charterer surveyors Fleurets for £320,000.

Only six months ago, the pub was sold by owners Greene King to new Wiltshire-based pub company Hawthorn Leisure.

It was one of 275 tenanted and leased pubs sold by Greene King to Hawthorn Leisure who at the time said it planned to work with its tenants, providing management support and capital investment to help them drive growth and maximise the potential of their premises.

But now the Lambton Arms is back on the market and a group led by regular Marc Birkett has applied to Gateshead Council for the pub to be declared an asset of community value.

This means that, if a change of use is planned, the community group is informed and given the chance to buy the property and keep it as a pub.

Web development manager Mr Birkett has used the pub, where his grandfather was a regular, since 1998.

He said: “This is our pub. It’s been someone’s pub for generations, but now, today, it’s ours and it needs help. We would hate to be the generation that does nothing and allows it to be closed for good.

“Our hope is that we can return the Lambton to a well-managed community pub, serving local beers that people want to drink, in a relaxed environment where you would want to bring your family.”

The group has the backing of the Campaign For Real Ale, which estimates over 300 pubs nationwide have been listed as assets of community value.

“It has been a successful pub, but it has closed and then re-opened. If a good buyer comes along for it as a pub that should be no problem but if it is proposed it becomes a house or a store that is when the community asset would come in,” said Mr Birkett.

The campaign would revert the pub, which dates to the 19th Century, to its original name of the Engine Inn.

It has launched a website www.engineinn.co.uk

The website says: “Our pub, the Lambton Arms at Eighton Banks, is currently up for sale by its owners. This is obviously a concern as we would like it to remain as a pub. It is our intention to raise the money to purchase it and run it as a community pub.

“We intend to revert the pub back to its original name to hopefully break the connection with the cycle of new owners, then closure, which the pub has suffered for the last few years.

“We would look to our local breweries rather than beer wholesalers and would take the place to what it once was, quiet, relaxed, family and dog friendly.

“We could even look at creating a brew pub, as we have people with the interest and the skills and the space and out buildings for a nano brewery.”

When the council’s decision is made the campaign will hold a public meeting at the Mount Community Centre, Eighton Banks.

“We need as many people to attend as possible, to demonstrate the desire within the community to keep the Lambton open,” said Mr Birkett. “We would love to take it back to its original name and fill it with memorabilia and maps promoting our mining and quarrying history, of which we are immensely proud.

“The Lambton has so much to offer already and given the right management, can become a vibrant, popular pub once again. It needs the old life it used to have put back into it and with support and help, we think we can do it.”

The Localism Act 2011 introduced an important new power for local communities to protect buildings and open spaces they value.

The Community Right to Bid came into effect in 2012. This is relevant to all civic societies and community groups.

This new right means communities can ask their local council to list certain assets as being of value to the community. If an asset is listed and then comes up for sale, the new right will give communities that want it six months to put together a bid to buy it.

A spokesman for Gateshead Council said: “We can confirm that we have received a nomination to register the Lambton Arms at Eighton Banks as an Asset of Community Value. "

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