The owner of Skeeby village pub says he is willing to sell the property to local villagers — but only at a fair price.
And property developer Jon Whitfield said he would take legal action if the local authority used compulsory purchase order powers to buy the Travellers Rest at what he claimed were below market rates.
The comments come after residents of the village last month relaunched a campaign to buy and reopen the pub.
The Skeeby Community Pub Society (SCPS) is asking local residents to show their support by pledging to buy shares in the premises when they are in a position to but the pub.
The pub has been shut since 2008, with Mr Whitfield’s attempts to seek planning permission to convert it into a house being rejected by planners.
The owner has put the building up for sale, however the original £200,000 asking price has been considered as too high by residents.
They are instead looking at the possibility of working with Richmondshire District Council (RDC) to use a compulsory purchase order to enable the community to buy the building.
Mr Whitfield told Richmondshire Today that a district valuer had valued the property at £110,000 — but had used vacant pubs in Shildon and Ferryhill, in County Durham, as a guide.
The owner said this was not a fair comparison with two valuations he had obtained much higher.
“We’ve had valuations from two well-established local surveying firms of £195,000 and £200,00.
“If they were to go down the CPO route we would fight it and we would use the valuations we have and look to to get back every penny of the compensation that we would be entitled to, as well as seeking costs.”
Mr Whitfield said he was no-longer looking to convert the property into a house and said he was willing to sell the property to the residents’ group for around £180,000.
The developer said he would also consider leasing the building to the villagers at a peppercorn rate for five years, which he said would allow the group to invest any money raised in its redevelopment.
A spokesperson for Richmondshire District Council said: “RDC is exploring the possibility of utilising CPO powers to help break the deadlock in negotiation on the purchase of the site, so that councillors have that option if they wish to use it.
“No decision has been made.”