(August 2016) Public Meeting Report

The Bishop Blaize – The former public house the Bishop Blaize has been listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). On 17 June the two Sibfords and Burdrop held a packed public meeting in the Village Hall to discuss the implications.

Although it is no longer for sale, and currently trading under a different name, the meeting agreed without dissent that we would wish to invoke the rights of the village communities to bid for the pub if it were ever on the market. In the meantime the existence of the ACV means there can be no change of use in planning terms.

We discussed the organisation needed for a future bid, together with possible uses for the public house: a successful community purchase may use the Bishop Blaize not necessarily or wholly as a pub, as long as it is “a non-ancillary use of the Asset which will further (whether or not in the same way) the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community”. Various uses were suggested, including a coffee shop, clubhouse, parcel collection service, facility for the elderly, centre for youth work, art centre, micro-brewery, bakery, hub for holiday activities such as biking, pony trekking, holiday lets. It was agreed to protect the existing interests of village institutions (Village Hall, Fielding Centre, village shop, Wykham Arms), and volunteers were called for to establish a planning group to explore the options. This group will begin meeting in the autumn; meanwhile anyone who has ideas or wishes to join is asked to contact the chairmen of Sibford Gower and Sibford Ferris Parish Councils.

The meeting ended with a presentation of the work of the Plunkett Foundation of Woodstock in helping to organise community ventures of this type.