THE fate of a Denton pub is back in the balance after a buyer backed out at the last minute.
And the community group set up to save the Penny Farthing has been left furious after finding itself with hardly any time to get its bid together.
The Correspondent reported that a deal had been agreed to take the St Anne’s Road site on, with the intention of keeping it as it was.
However, that has now fallen through, leaving the threat that it will be converted into flats or something like an Indian restaurant,
John Leech, chairman of the Save The Penny action group, detailed how colleagues attended meetings with the buyer, believed to be Terence McNicholas, who wanted to keep and modernise half of the pub.
He would also have built eight apartments and one bungalow, with four apartments in the current living quarters and the others plus the bungalow on the car park.
It was also hoped the outside area would have been landscaped with modern outdoor furniture.
Approaches were also made to group members with prior experience of running pubs to take on the Penny Farthing.
One landlady, Jackie, had even been found.
Mr Leech said: “The paper side of the agreements were sorted out and confirmation emails received, the rent side was agreed also.
“But the developer was adamant he wanted us to withdraw our community bid and said he would not sign until we had done so. He was very adamant on this.
“We have emails to prove his plans it has turned out this has all been a nothing!
“The crux of the matter is we all feel we have been duped!
“We as a group were given six months to find funding. The new buyer pulls out pretty much as our six months expires.
“I as chairman of the group feel very let down by all of this and it doesn’t sit well. We’ve all been on an emotional rollercoaster and we’re talking about people’s livelihoods here.”
Mr Leech claims estate agents Fleurets told him the deal fell through because of a ‘lack of funds.’
But he added: “When I asked the question surely this is the first thing checked?
“If I personally was to put on offer on a house they would want to see proof of funds, or at the least a mortgage in principal letter to say I could afford, before it shows up as sold subject to contract.”
Brewers Thwaites were thought to have turned down a higher offer as they wanted the Penny Farthing to stay as a pub.
Campaigners gathered at an open day organised by Fleurets as the pub was on the market for £295,000.
About two dozen interested parties cast their eye over it and the highest bidder is thought to have wanted to demolish the existing building and erected flats.
However, Thwaites – who always said they hoped it would re-open as a pub – are thought to have said no and accepted a lower price.
Save the Penny hoped to buy the building and not only re-open it as a pub but also as a community hub – they applied to Tameside Council to transfer it to the community and if approved, had six months to buy it before they withdrew after speaking to the buyer.
But Mr Leech added: “The clock has pretty much run down, it’s probably a matter of weeks.
“The facts are we withdrew our community bid after being told the new potential buyer was adamant he would not pursue if we didn’t!”
Even though the pub closed in February and former licensee Ben Jordan cleared his belongings out as viewers attended the open day, a licence still remains in place.
Fixtures and fittings that remain on the premises at the time of completion will be included in the sale.
The apparent plans before the pullout also pleased Denton and Reddish MP Andrew Gwynne, who lives nearby and backed the residents’ campaign.
He said: “The pub is right at the heart of the community and I’m sure that, with the right offer, it could thrive and be a success once more.”
A spokesman for Thwaites said: “We exchanged contracts for the Penny Farthing but the buyer didn’t complete the sale, for reasons unknown to us.
“We know the community will be disappointed by this news, and we are too.