The Exelby Green Dragon is currently OPEN under current Coronavirus legislation.
For current information on services at the pub please visit the pub website CLICK HERE
Exelby Green Dragon Community Pub Ltd is doing all it can to help our tenants, Tom and Becci whilst continuing to support the community of Exelby and beyond - please keep a lookout in the News section of this website and our Facebook Channel for latest updates.
The Green Dragon has been a focal point in the community of Exelby for many years. In the past, the pub had traded very successfully as a village and destination pub. It had also and been at the centre of community activities such as the Extravaganza, Bonfire Night, Quiz nights, Themed evenings, charity events, the Dragons Club and special events on the field all run with the active support of the landlord. The pub also hosted a small community shop at one point.
Sadly, a decline set in. The pub lacked the necessary ongoing investment to offer decent facilities. It went into a spiral of decline through its previous owners and could not offer a viable business for its tenants. Its last couple of years of trading prior to closure was a pub that offered predominately wet sales only, a few attempts at a food service and was propped up by being a base for workers employed on the nearby A1 upgrade. The owners were soft marketing the pub for sale as a ‘development opportunity’ and there was no visible appetite either by the owners or a future tenant willing to revive its fortunes.
So, with a considerable fund of goodwill towards the pub from the village and local catchment area, a group of likeminded and interested people got together in 2016 to see if it was possible to buy the pub as a community asset. And we did, with a vision to create a community pub and more with a café, shop and space to become a vibrant community hub for everyone!
On Friday 12th October 2018 we bought the pub!
It took a couple of years to get to this point. Although the pub was on the market there was little visible marketing, not least an asking price to work from. Negotiations were protracted, difficult and of a ‘stop/start’ nature with little sign of any other purchasers being interested. The pub formally closed in May 2018 and this gave fresh momentum to achieve change.
One of the major sticking points was a valuation that was affordable. The group that formed to initiate a community purchase obtained a valuation which was poles apart from the owner’s expectation. This was principally due to the perceived development potential of the site even though this had not been explored to any effect by them.
The community group was successful in applying to Hambleton District Council for the site to be listed as an Asset of Community Value. This meant that the community group had first option to make a bid if another purchaser was interested and raised the bar on alternate uses of the site without retaining the pub. We were convinced the owners agenda was to secure redevelopment of the whole site.
In the end a compromise was reached that they would sell us the pub and cottage providing that part of the site was also available for housing development. To put a deal together we had to find a developer who was prepared to proceed at risk with a purchase of part of the land without any planning permission. In this way a deal was finally put together and terms agreed to purchase the pub, attached cottage and facilitate an adjoining development (which was a separate transaction by the owners).
To ensure the Exelby Green Dragon became a community pub and more with a café, shop and space to become a vibrant community hub for everyone, a Community Benefit Society was formed so that everyone could have a say and the pub be protected for future generations.
We put together an ‘eyes open’ business plan knowing the works required to the pub and adjoining cottage (which was also part of the purchase). We needed nearly £400,000 to fund purchase and renovations. We originally envisaged £50,000 would come from a grant from the Plunkett Foundation, a similar value loan and £300,000 from share sales.
In the lead up to purchase we held various community events, leafleted widely and used limited social media to assess interest. To gauge financial viability, we also asked if people would pledge to buy future shares in the project. The reaction to this gave sufficient commitment for us to proceed further and as we put together a funding package, we formally launched the share offer.
We had our ideal position we wanted to achieve but did not have all the funding in place when we committed to purchase. Even with a generous grant offer from Hambleton District Council of £35,000 towards the cottage renovations as a unit of affordable housing, we were around £75,000 short of target. However, we had enough to meet the purchase price. We also prioritised investments in the premises and determined we had enough funding to be able to do the most important improvements and make the commitment as shares continued to be sold. This was a key tipping point when the community said yes in September 2018!
We bought the pub and made a start. Initially our priority was to get the pub open and trading in some form. This was with a revamp of the main bar areas to be able to reopen the pub at some point with wet sales initially. Recruitment of a tenant also commenced, and we found exceptional tenants, Tom and Becci Baker who shared our vision to take the project forward. The pub opened and trading started in December 2018 with wet sales.
This is the website of Exelby Green Dragon Community Pub Ltd
This is a legal entity and is constituted as a Community Benefit Society. This gave the group a status to be able to negotiate formally with the owners, seek funding opportunities with grants and loans as well as having the ability to issue a share offer. The Community Benefit Society status also acted to limit the financial liability of those involved and gave the former steering group the necessary credentials to move the project forward, formally negotiate and act as a purchaser.
Exelby Green Dragon Community Pub Ltd was registered with the Financial Conduct Authority on 12 July 2017. We are a Community Benefit Society (No. RS7599) as defined under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014.
Tom & Becci Baker
As soon as purchase was confirmed as going ahead, we set out to recruit the right tenants to take on the Exelby Green Dragon and help it become a thriving community pub with a buzzing café and community shop.
Tom and Becci and Baker took over as tenants of the Exelby Green Dragon on Saturday 1st December 2018 just a couple of months after purchase.
Tom and Becci showed the right aptitude for taking on a community pub and developing the business. They are exceptional people who share our vision of a thriving pub right at the heart of the community. Both had been involved in the licensed trade, but it is their first pub together and we wish them continued success.
You can check out Becci and Tom's Exelby Green Dragon website, book a table for a meal, find out about forthcoming events and generally stay in touch here.
Make an investment
If you would like to join our waiting list to make an investment in Exelby Green Dragon Community Pub Ltd, you will find all the information you need here.
If you would like to join us on our journey we would be happy to have you on board.