Campaigners who fought to save The Windmill say they are ‘saddened’ by the decision to allow the once-popular pub to be turned it into flats.
The cohort of south Bristol residents mounted an ambitious bid to raise the funds to buy the premises through a community share offer in July but fell short of meeting the £300,000 target, despite pledges of support from more than 400 people.
Following the decision by Bristol City Council’s planning committee to approve revised plans to turn the building into flats, the Save the Windmill group admits the campaign has “reached the end of the road”.
Members stand by their belief that the pub was financially viable and claim the asking price was too high but say they hadn’t bargained on the impact of a global pandemic when they first rallied together in a bid to save the pub in December 2019.
In a final update to supporters, the Save the Windmill campaign team said: “As the steering group that did all we could to save the pub, we are saddened by this as we feel that the pub had a unique offer and a strong customer base.
“There remains a possibility that a pub chain or private business may wish to purchase the pub but we fear this is unlikely as it will now be priced as a ‘development opportunity’ and as such at too high a cost for a pub business to take on.
“So, this is sadly the end of the road for our campaign.”
Steering group members thanked everyone who supported their efforts, saying they are humbled by the strong sense of community spirit the campaign engendered, adding: “We maintain that the pub was saveable but as stated before, none of us had bargained on a pandemic and the impact on the pub sector and on all of our financial security.”
Owners Bar Wars secured approval to turn the building in Windmill Hill into five flats on Wednesday, November 11 and are planning to sell it along with the consent.
The campaign group was offered a lease on the pub by the owner but, as a Community Benefit Society, it is required to own an asset and cannot be the vehicle for a lease.
Bar Wars director Mike Cranney told the planning committee he tried extremely hard to retain the building as a pub, but without success.
“We’ve invested over 14 years of our lives in The Windmill and it took a lot of hard work from many people to make a success of it,” he said. “The heartbreaking fact is that for many reasons our business model no longer works in the venue.”
Photos by Ellie Pipe