A not-for-profit Community Benefit Society owns the Blue Bell, The Blue Bell Community Hub Limited, comprising members mainly from the village and surrounding area. The society is managed by a steering committee of nine, two of whom will liaise and be the formal point of contact with the successful tenant.
The village benefits from being a popular attraction for walkers and cyclists visiting the National Park with its many tracks and trails. It contains a post office and shop, sculpture studio, trout fishery, tea rooms and cafe and will be part of the proposed Centurion Railway Path linking Chichester to Midhurst. Also being just 4 miles from the Goodwood motor circuit and racecourse it benefits from attendees to the Goodwood Revival, Festival of Speed and horse racing Festival, just 3 miles away is the Weald and Downlands Museum and West Dean Gardens and College, all of whom use the facilities of the village, including its bed and breakfast offerings.
The Blue Bell is an imposing building formerly a railway hotel.
Currently it is under renovation to create a Village Hub that includes a bar area with wood burning stove and traditional board games, a restaurant/café that will accommodate 38 covers, a fully equipped kitchen and back of bar area, an annex which will include a South Downs Visitor Centre and a small retail unit (if wished, that can be part of the tenancy subject to negotiation).
On the first floor, there are three en-suite double letting rooms with a history of high occupancy. Externally there is a garden and patio area with seating for 30, and the site has car parking for 14 cars including two disabled bays with additional parking available on local side roads. There will also be a cycle rack and equipped repair facility located in the garden.
The Blue Bell closed October 2017 due to an increase in rent and rates at the end of tenure. Prior to that, it was a profitable business turning over we understand in excess of £350,000 (£100,000 of which came from bed and breakfast). On its closure, it was sold to a developer with a view to turning it into housing. The village supporters managed to overturn the planning application, raise the money to buy the Blue Bell and are now in the process of renovating the property with a view to opening in November. There is ample opportunity for the new tenant to have direct input into the finishes and decoration.
A community-led initiative to relaunch a former profitable business. There is a great opportunity to add your input into its finalisation including its kitchen, back of bar and fittings. The Blue Bell Hub will contain a pub (free from tie), a restaurant/café, garden and patio, bed and breakfast rooms and a small retail unit with the potential for inclusion of a Post Office counter. This is an exciting opportunity to get in at the very beginning as part of the community to create, in partnership, something very special and profitable.
The Blue Bell will serve good pub grub with strong potential and scope for growth, see our business plan at www.bluebellhub.org. The vision for the Hub is for it to be at the heart of the community and to support the many visitors to our area.
The Blue Bell would suit a community-minded couple with catering experience who can split the kitchen and front of house roles effectively. The community owners’ objectives are to maintain and actively support a popular, viable and successful country facility. It is therefore vital that the successful applicants are prepared to work to ensure these are met. The owners are more than prepared to negotiate the terms for the right operator.
Since the creation of the Blue Bell, through activities all based around supporting the concept, the village has seen a complete rejuvenation of its community spirit. There are over 127 shareholders, all of whom are committed to the project. Recent pop-up activities have seen 100+ attendees, and this bodes well for the future.
There is an active events team that support the enterprise plus a team of volunteers. Going forward, these volunteer groups will actively support the tenant through events and working parties. It is envisaged that the pub will be a place that the community will use throughout the day. Currently, opposite the Blue Bell, there is a local post office that serves the village plus three other local villages. The plan is when the current postmaster retires, early next year, that the post office will be accommodated alongside the small shop in Hubs annexe (this can run as a separate business or as part of the Blue Bell).
The owners are looking for;
• A welcoming outgoing person who takes an interest in the well-being of the community
• A person who is capable of running a successful, profitable hospitality business willing to have full responsibility for profit and loss and employ local staff (minimum two years’ experience)
• A person who relates well to people of all ages and backgrounds
• A person who will work in partnership with the Society in promoting and participating in events to advance the objectives of the Society including organising community events
• A person who is ambitious to get the hub listed in The Good Beer Guide, CAMRA and other industry awards/review schemes
• A person who is driven by maintaining high standards throughout
• A person who will provide quality wholesome pub-grub at reasonable prices including take-away pizzas
• A person who will source its products from local suppliers where practicable
• A person willing to embrace IT technology in advertising and promoting the hub including last-minute SMS messaging to fill troughs in demand
• A person who holds or is able to obtain an accredited licensing qualification
On the first floor adjacent to the three double B&B rooms, there is a self-contained tenant’s suite comprising of a double bedroom with en-suite, a large sitting room and open plan dining area, which if the tenant requires it, will include a galley kitchen.
- Cask Ale
- Beer Garden
- Catering Kitchen
- Free of Tie
- Letting Rooms
- Car Park