THREE members of the public trying to get the Buccaneers Bar in East Street, Crediton, nominated as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) attended the June 1 meeting of Crediton Town Council’s Planning and Strategy Committee.

The public house (opposite Crediton Arts Centre), formerly used as a snooker hall and prior to that a cinema, has been used on occasion as a music entertainment venue.

Councillors were considering a planning application for the Change of use from Use Class 4 to offices and canteen facility (Use Class E), Reference 21/00709/FULL.

The speakers said that the venue was irreplaceable and of value to the community for such a purpose.

A spokesman for Crediton Dairy also attended the meeting and said that the dairy would like to purchase the venue for use as a staff canteen for its 185 staff and also to include offices.

He said that the owner had told him that the business was not being supported enough by the community resulting in it making a loss during the last four years and breaking even for the four years prior to that.

He said that the last musical event run at the venue attracted just six paying “punters” resulting in a loss of several hundreds of pounds.

The speakers attempting to have the venue registered as an ACV said that the venue had been a centre of entertainment for more than 90 years but recognised it had fallen on hard times in recent years.

The Committee chairman, Cllr Liz Brookes-Hocking, said that if the planning authority (Mid Devon District Council) was minded to register the venue as an ACV, then the campaign group or another body would have six months to raise funds for the venue’s purchase.

However, the meeting also heard that the building requires extensive structural works.

The chairman said that she had heard from Mid Devon District Councillor John Downes (who was not present), that he would call in the planning application, which would mean that it would have to be discussed at a future council meeting.

Cllr Jim Cairney said that if Cllr Downes was not able to do this, he would do so but previously in the meeting said that he had not made up his mind on the plan.

The chairman also asked that the planning application be put on the agenda for the next full meeting of Crediton Town Council for it to decide if it wanted to support the venue becoming an ACV.


Graham Gratwick, Proprietor and Manager, Buccaneers Bar, wrote to the “Courier” following the meeting and said: “I am both dismayed and immensely disappointed that the change of use application by Crediton Dairy for Buccaneers Bar has been ‘called in’ by the council as a result of representations at yesterday’s (June 1) council meeting.

“The objections centre on the loss of the venue as a host for some musical events, which has never been the core or focus of our activities, indeed musical events have only been a relatively recent and minor part of our business and at times they have been embarrassingly poorly supported. 

“The objectors are not our good regular customers who have assisted the survival of the business during the pandemic, using it as a community bar which also hosted six skittles, four darts and two pool teams prior to the Covid lockdowns and associated restrictions, which have served to cripple both us and the wider hospitality industry.


“It was only on the day of the meeting that any of the objectors thought to speak to myself about the matter.

“Our regular customers are well aware that the business was NOT closing down but was in the process of planning a move into alternative premises in which it was intended to continue the majority of our activities, the downsizing deemed prudent as a consequence of the damage to the pub industry and the physical demands of running the business virtually singlehanded.

“The consequence of this application, at best being delayed, at worst refused, is of immense damage to the business as it now casts a cloud of uncertainty over our future at a critical part of the timescale for relocating.

“The sale of the premises could potentially fall through as could the acquisition of the replacement premises and the uncertainty and disruption to the timing of our plans may well lead to the haemorrhaging of support from our pub sport teams to other venues just as noises are being made about restarting the various different leagues. This would probably be our death-knell.

“I fear the consequence of the music lobby following their own narrow agenda to the detriment of the other groups of customers using the premises, will actually accelerate very significantly the closure of both the premises and also the business which runs it, with physical deterioration of the premises inevitable.

“At least the dairy intended to maintain the structure and replace the very leaky roof as well as retaining some of the internal features of the building. Unfortunately, the objectors do not want to face up to the reality of the situation but continue with their pipedream.”

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