The Chilterns is in danger of losing one of its most historic pubs. Residents of Ley Hill near Chesham are fighting to raise sufficient funds to purchase The Swan after repeated planning applications by its current owner to develop the beautiful 500 year old building into up-market housing.
The first planning application to turn the building into a private day nursery was refused by the council in April 2019 since when two successive applications have been received to convert the building to residential use. The initial application which would have turned it into two cottages was withdrawn and the second for a single residential unit is currently before the council for consideration.
The Swan is a Grade II listed, timber- framed building dating back to around 1520, with original oak beams, an inglenook fireplace and an unusual snug just off the main bar.
Allegedly on the site of the very first building in Ley Hill, the pub was an alehouse long before the term ‘pub’ came into being and was known for its association with the request for a ‘last and final ale’ from condemned prisoners on their way to the gallows by Jason’s Hill.
During World War II the pub was frequented by the likes of Clark Gable, James Stewart and Glenn Miller while the snug was in use as a temporary post office.
The Save Our Swan (SOS) group has been formed by local residents in an attempt to save this rare gem for future generations and to this end they have set up the ‘Ley Hill Community Pub Company’ with a view to purchasing the pub for the community. The group are asking for support for their campaign as following coronavirus and the consequent increase in homeworking, pubs will be needed more than ever as the hub of the local community.
Although still small in number, Community Pubs have proved a hit and SOS is receiving assistance from the Plunkett Foundation, an organisation dedicated to assisting communities acquire and run their own assets. So successful has the concept been that of around 100 pubs purchased by their local communities, not one has failed and all are still trading.
Further information and how you can support the campaign is available from the Ley Hill Community Pub website.
The SOS prospectus for pledging money for member shares of £100 each can be viewed here.
There are well over 100 objections to the current planning application and you can add your comments via the chilternandsouthbucks.gov.uk website planning reference PL/20/3086/FA – here.