Villagers have launched a campaign to save a historic Grade II-listed pub from being turned into a house.

The King William IV in Hampden Road, Speen, has traded as a village pub since 1827, but closed in December 2015. 

The present owner has since applied for change of use to residential and associated works requiring listed building consent.

Villagers formed a campaign called The Save the King William Group to retain the pub and purchase the property.

This was supported in 2019 by financial pledges raising more than £500,000 from 81 households.

All offers made by The Save the King William Group on behalf of the villagers to buy the pub were rejected, with the asking price being raised to £925,000.

Steve Binder, who is behind the campaign, thinks "the strategy has always been to set the price as a residential property, pretend that there’s no market for a pub, and hold on until planning permission might be granted for change of use."

Speen is a vibrant community with a myriad of different interest groups such as football, skiing, golf, cycling, sailing etc.

The campaign group emphasise how these friendship groups formed at the bar of King William IV.

Village Committees including the Speen Heritage Group, Speen Playing Fields and the WI also met in the pub.

The pool table was very popular with teenagers as their only meeting place within the village.

Prior to closure, villagers supported the owner’s events including an annual Burns Night, a St Patricks Night, Sunday Lunch specials.

Other regular events were organised solely by villagers or jointly with the owner, including quiz nights.

Pensioner group meals were organised weekly providing a meeting place for the older members of the community.

Villagers organised gatherings for newcomers and residents comprising an evening meal sometimes with entertainment. Sadly, these community interactions no longer exist.

Mr Binder added: "In its best years the pub was a vibrant thriving hub for villagers of all ages to meet, eat, drink, and socialise. 

"As you’d expect of most pubs, Fridays and Saturdays would always be full and very lively, but this also extended to weekdays in the summer where young and old could meet for an after-work drink or early supper outside in the sunshine.

"The entire premise of the owner’s planning application for change of use is that the KWIV is not viable as a pub, implying that nobody would be interested in buying it as a pub, and that converting it into a residential house is the only way to save this historic listed building.

"But this is entirely a false narrative that the planning authorities must not accept.

"The pub has survived various wars, financial crashes, pandemics and other challenges over its history and it has been operated by a wide range of landlords. Even if the current owner does genuinely believe that it is unviable, the right thing to do is to sell it for a realistic price either to the community or a genuine publican and let someone else have a go."

To see the full planning application enter 23/07884/FUL into Buckinghamshire Council's planning portal.