The joint owner of a closed village pub says it is not for sale, even though villagers are trying to raise enough money to buy it.
Villagers in Helions Bumpstead have formed a steering committee to take forward their ambitions of purchasing the Three Horseshoes as a community interest investment and restoring it as a pub.
The pub has been under the ownership of Jack and Ann Jennings for three years but was shut down last June after it became financially unviable.
Mrs Jennings told the Echo: “The building is not for sale.”
Last year Mr and Mrs Jennings applied to Braintree District Council (BDC) for a Proposed Lawful Development Certificate, which would have enabled them to change the pub into an antiques, book and bric-a-brac shop.
However, last month the application was refused by the council, who advised them that they instead need to apply for planning permission if the change is to go ahead.
Helions Bumpstead Parish Council successfully applied last year to have the pub listed by BDC as an asset of community value in order to try and protect it from becoming anything other than pub.
Now the steering committee has been formed to see if it can raise £320,000 to buy the pub from Mr and Mrs Jennings, which was the asking price the couple set when making an offer to the parish council last spring.
Helen Bull, who chairs the steering committee, said: “We did a business plan and did the numbers and we believe we can give a small return to people who invest and then we approached the village to see if there was interest in buying it and we had some reasonably successful levels of interest.
“The next step is to see if the Jennings’s will be willing to sell.”
Half of the £320,000 would have to initially be raised in pledges for any purchase to be possible, added Mrs Bull.