Turning A Corner

Turning A Corner

There are two corners in this real life example. The first is the purchase of a derelict pub, and turning it into a revitalised and reopened with the new name Corner House Coffee Bar.

From Ruinous Old Closed Pub (c) 2004 Argyll Group plc Collection.

Scots Lion Refurbished Coffee Bar

To Fresh Newstart Building & Business (c) 2005 Argyll Group plc Collection.

The second is a more profound turn of a corner: that of turning around the accelerating number of pub closures in the country. During the first half of 2015 there were circa 29 pub closures per week…

Click Here For BBC Public House Closure Article

More recently in 2017, the rate of pub closures is nearer 15 per week (here and here). But statistics can be way out of context. Given there are already hundreds of public houses that have been closed down over the past decade, the rate is slowing due to there being significantly fewer pubs around to close!

All of this is a huge waste. Closed buildings; lost business rates; lost jobs; lost income tax; lost corporation tax; lost retail sales; lost VAT; lost excise duty. Not to mention the loss of amenity. Especially when it is the last pub in the town or village that is closing.

So what can be done? Below is a clear example. It shows what a group of determined individuals can do as a virtual hobby, buying, renovating and re-opening a wreck. Six full time and six part time jobs were eventually created out of a derelict pub. That is asides from the work that the trades involved in the building renovation secured.

This is a microcosm of what could and should be happening around the country.

In this particular case the civil servants, in the form of the local planning authority at Argyll & Bute Council were very helpful. A breath of fresh air that other government departments might like to look upon kindly. The local planners agreed that as long as there was a “bar” within the old public house, we did not need the nightmare of a change of use application. We kept the bar, but forwent the alcohol and made it a coffee bar. The previous shop we converted to an office (here) had a process that was utter torture. Ultimately that “change of use” pemission from a shop to anoffice required 203 pieces of paper to be submitted to the council. That was (and is) a serious problem that the parliamentarians and lawmakers might do well to consider?

We ask: how many jobs are lost due to folk simply having had enough of serious volumes of red tape and walking away from creating new jobs?

A law change is needed to remedy the damage to job creation that the current over regulated planning and building control sector imposes on businesses that create employment with real jobs in the real world.

Scots Lion GF Before

Ground Floor Entrance Area “Before” (c) 2004 Argyll Group plc.

When we reopened this derelict pub and the word got around town about a new coffee bar, the tenant became very busy and had to take on more staff. In total…

12 New Jobs Created.

This was a wonderful result and can be a beacon as to what might be managed in other towns throughout the country where the last pub in the village closes. Then some developers wish to take a much more profitable route and secure change of use to convert the closed pub into a luxury house. Great for the new owner, but not so good for the local community who have lost a significant part of their amenities forever. 

Scots Lion GF After

Ground Floor Entrance Area “After” (c) 2005 Argyll Group plc Collection.

The real shock we got is how busy the coffee bar became – phenomenally so in such a short period of time following the day of reopening.

More exciting things are happening on this entire building-closure-reopening front. Community ownership of the last pub, or the last post office; or the last shop in town are occurring the length and breadth of the country. Some 400 community owned shops now exist in the UK…

Click Here To Read About Community Shop Initiatives

There are a growing number of such efforts. All shapes and sizes. many variations – in communities from John O’Groats to Lands’ End. We have new friends working to this end throughout the UK and shall cover several efforts on dedicated pages within this website in due course.

LESSON: If you and some friends do decide to follow the pattern of the type of venture capital support projects illustrated on this website, PLEASE be careful, or at least ready for what any particular building might throw at you. This particular  old pub structure was bought as a derelict shell, and took the best part of a year to both renovate and get the newstart business person installed and financially supported.

We bough this derelict old pub for £20,000 on 6th November 2002 and spent around £43,000 on the refurbishment. We helped the new tenant reopen it, and acted as his bank. The business was successfully grown. The tenant was offered the building, but declined, being happier to rent.

We then offered the building for sale (with tenant and business in situ).

Shortly after we advertised this property for sale, a person from the Highlands made us a reasonable offer. hat was accepted and the funds were then deployed to renovate and re-open the next closed-down premises.

More jobs were then created.

As mentioned on the front page of this website, profit is important. The Corner House Coffee Shop is clearly an example of how well these projects can turn out:-

Derelict Pub Renovated

12 Jobs Created

Community Amenity Facility Reopened

Resale Profits Utilised For Reinvestment In New Shop Reopening Ventures

Some may call this a virtuous circle.

After reading the facts and figures, would something like this work in your community?


“Before” and “After” Photographs

These tell the story of this one example of a particular ruinous shell ….

Scots Lion Bar Before

Ground Floor Coffee Bar “Before” (c) 2004 Argyll Group plc Collection.

Scots Lion Coffee Bar After

Ground Floor Coffee Bar “After” (c) 2005 Argyll Group plc Collection.

Scots Lion First Floor Before

First Floor Nightclub “Before” (c) 2004 Argyll Group plc Collection.
Scots Lion First Floor After

First Floor Coffee Bar “After” (c) 2005 Argyll Group plc Collection.

Argyll Group plc Internet Cafe

First Floor Internet Cafe (c) 2005 Argyll Group plc Collection.

Scots Lion Top Floor Flat Before

Second Floor Flat “Before” (c) 2004 Argyll Group plc Collection.

Scots Lion Top Floor Flat After

Second Floor Flat “After” (c) 2005 Argyll Group plc Collection.

 Scots Lion Roof Overhaul 1

Major Roof Repairs (c) 2005 Argyll Group plc Collection.

Scots Lion Roof Repair Nearing Completion

Completing The Roof Repairs – Don’t Look Down ! (c) 2005 Argyll Group plc Collection.

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