Community asset plan could save The Imp - The Rugby Observer
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20th Aug, 2022

Community asset plan could save The Imp

Rugby Editorial 11th Apr, 2014 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016

LATEST efforts to save The Imp from the bulldozers could be stepped with campaigners considering applying to make it a community asset.

The move would require a formal group to be set up with at least 21 members for the borough council to consider adding the 130-year-old pub on Oxford Street to its register.

And although it would not guarantee it would remain what it would do would be to give the group an option to buy the building – thought to have been bought by the current owner in 2007 for around £450,000.

It has not been open for around three years with several of its 23 rooms let out on a monthly basis.

Plans to replace it with flats first surfaced in 2004 before being dropped and put back on the table last year.

The current proposals for four one-bedroom and 14 two-bedroom flats and 15 parking spaces were withdrawn two weeks ago and it was put back on the market.

The Observer understands that happened after the owner was advised by the council’s planning department the proposals were not in line with current policy which states local services and community facilities should be retained unless it could be proven there is no realistic prospect that the use can be continued.

Steve Wright, from the Save The Imp group, which is currently garnering support online, told us there was a will among local people to try to block the owner’s bid to knock it down and replace it with flats with 30 people objecting to the latest planning application.

“It’s early days, but there’s a hardcore of us that are prepared to do things,” he said.

“It’s the heart of the community. I don’t know what’s happening to the town, it’s losing so much.

“It also has architectural value, it fits in with the street and as an amenity, it’s far more valuable, especially considering the plans to build thousands of houses, and the planners should sick up for that.”

“It could be a viable business, as a hotel as well as a pub, being so close to the station. With the Rugby World Cup next year, we could do with the accommodation. Not everyone wants to stay in a Travelodge.

“The National Planning Policy Framework says that they should be looking into the future. At the moment the pub trade does struggle, but there won’t always be a recession.”

In the planning application the owner admits ‘while the is an embodied energy within the fabric of the former Royle Imperial Hotel, the current layout does not lend itself well a retrofit change of use redesign and redressing the building’s neglected state has been deemed not to be commercially viable’.

No-one from the owner’s property agents George and Company could be contacted we went to press.

Already on Rugby’s Community Asset Register is Meadow Close in Ansty and The Stag and Pheasant in Hillmorton.

Rugby Gym Club on Hillmorton Road was but later withdrawn and an application to add St Matthew’s Church in the town centre did not proceed as different rules govern churches.

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