A PETITION has been set up to make a Benfleet pub an "asset of community value" after its sudden closure. 

The Woodmans Arms closed suddenly this week, with operator making a statement on social media stating, “it is time to move on to pastures new”.

The brewery, Star Pubs & Bars, part of Heineken UK, confirmed to the Echo yesterday that they are aiming “reopen it as quickly as possible” once they find a new "independent operator".  

READ MORE >> Popular Benfleet pub announces it is shutting immediately as owners issue statement

But, due to the uncertainity in finding a new operator at this time and the sudden closure, a petition has been set up to make it an asset of community value.

It means if the asset comes up for the sale, the community will be given the chance to make a bid to buy it protecting it from future development - subject to it its continued use for community benefit.

Michael Dixon, a former Thundersley councillor, who set up the petition, said: “The strong backing for the petition advocating the designation of Woodmans Arms as a community asset underscores its significance.

“In the past week, I have engaged in conversations with numerous individuals from the community, and they all share a unanimous stance on this matter.

“Safeguarding this exceptional establishment for the benefit of future generations is a paramount objective.”

Rebecca Harris, MP for Castle Point, added: “I am very sorry the landlady has had to move on as she was very dedicated to the pub and held a lot of community events there that I know raised thousands of pounds for local causes.

“I hope the brewery are able to find someone to take it over quickly, but I understand why residents are concerned about safeguarding its future as a pub. 

“In 2011, the Government introduced the power for local community groups to apply to list certain types of individuals buildings as ‘assets of community value’ if the local council agrees.

“That would mean that if in the future a developer wanted to redevelop the site into housing, it would give more power to the council to tun down the planning application.”

Jacqui Thornton, councillor responsible for St James’ ward, also supported the petition stating: “It is a level insurance for the community against a change of use or being sold in the future.”

To enquire about signing the petition, contact office@castlepointconservatives.com