Express & Star

Application lodged to list Crooked House site as asset of community value as campaigners continue fight to see it rebuilt

An application has been lodged with a council to list the site of the Crooked House as an asset of community value as campaigners continue their fight to see it rebuilt.

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Paul Turner with South Staffordshire MP Sir Gavin Williamson holding the application

South Staffordshire MP Sir Gavin Williamson has submitted the application to South Staffordshire Council with the support of campaigners from the Save the Crooked House (Let's get it re-built) Facebook group.

Buildings and land that have a main use or purpose of furthering the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community can be nominated.

Once listed as assets of community value with the local authority, communities are then informed if they are listed for sale within the five year listing period.

The community can then enact a right to bid, which gives them a period of six months to determine if they can raise the money to buy the asset if it is put up for sale.

Mr Williamson said he hoped the application would act as a further step in the quest to get the former wonky pub rebuilt, following the devastating fire on August 5.

The remaining structure was demolished less than 48 hours later.

Campaigners have since called for the pub in Himley to be rebuilt and The Save the Crooked House (Let's get it rebuilt) group has over 35,000 members.

Dozens of people recently visited the site to mark the six month anniversary of the historic 18th century pub being burned down and pinned their memories of the Crooked House on paper to a tree and a specially erected board.

Mr Williamson, who also visited the site to encourage campaigners, said: "On Monday I applied to see if we could get it registered as an asset of community value.

"What's been clear in terms of speaking to campaigners is that it will be a useful and important step to try and deliver what we all want to see, the reconstruction of the Crooked House."

MP Gavin Williamson. With Paul Turner, former landlords John Hutchinson, Dave Shotton and Ian Sandall marking the six month anniversary of the Crooked House fire

Campaigner Paul Turner said: "I'm very happy Sir Gavin Williamson has offered to help.

"It adds weight to our case – it can't force the owners to sell it but it will give it another layer of protection. If they do sell we would have the opportunity to get the money together to buy the site.

"It is one of a number of ways we aim to ensure that the authorities recognise the value of the site as we proceed with our plan to get The Crooked House rebuilt.

"We are looking for other protections as we believe there may be some valuable archaeology still intact under the ground level which various conservation authorities may well be interested in."

The iconic pub was mysteriously destroyed in a suspected arson attack just over a week after it was sold for a reported £675,000 to a buyer who reputedly wanted to change its use.

The use of building, which dates back to 1735, was changed from a farmhouse to a pub in 1830 and became a well known tourist attraction due to the mining subsidence which caused one side of the building to be approximately four feet (1.2 m) lower than the other.

Famous for its wonky appearance and marbles appearing to roll uphill, many people visited from far and wide to see it and it was a popular venue in the area for social functions.

Staffordshire Police has made six arrests in connection with the incident.

South Staffordshire Council confirmed it had received the application and it would be considered.

If it is deemed to be valid the council has eight weeks to consult with ward councillors and determine the application.

A council spokesperson added: "If a nomination is successful the asset will be listed on the register for five years, if the owner of the asset decides to sell, the register will be updated, and the community group who made the nomination will be notified.

"A six-week interim moratorium period then begins in which a community group can consider placing a bid and must inform the council.

"If a community group is interested in placing a bid a six-month full moratorium period begins which will give the community group time to prepare a business plan and find the finances for the take over the asset.

"At the end of the moratorium period the owner of the asset considers all the bids but can ultimately sell to whoever they choose."