Villagers have launched a bid to buy their local pub and safeguard its future as the “social glue” of the community.

The Jolly Huntsman in Kington St Michael, near Chippenham, has been on the market, for a guide price of £650,000, since October last year.

The venue, which remains open, looks set to change hands for the first time in two decades with the current landlords ready to move on after a “successful” tenure.

Now the Kington St Michael Community Pub Project has been set up by a group of villagers who intend to keep the pub open and “a vibrant part of the community".

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Wiltshire Times: The Jolly Huntsman pub in WiltshireThe Jolly Huntsman pub in Wiltshire (Image: Rightmove)

The group is applying for grants to raise the money needed to purchase the property, which is currently listed as an asset of community value.

Committee secretary Alex Hall hopes this will prevent the pub being lost to other uses or closure.

He said: “We’re very aware of what has happened to other village pubs, which have been turned into flats or bought up and left to sit empty.

“When your pub goes on the market it may not be bought at all or it may be bought by someone who wants to turn it into residential housing.

“We wanted to to give another option, we’ve got ourselves set up to raise the money to put the pub in the hands of the community, so we never lose it as an asset.”

Because the property is an asset of community value, there is a moratorium until August giving the group an opportunity to bid.

If successful, they intend to appoint a tenanted landlord at a “reasonable” rate.

Mr Hall says this would retain the pub as “the heart of the village".

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Wiltshire Times: Committee members Gerry Gamble, Neil White, Linda Durno, and Alex Hall (left to right) at The Jolly Huntsman pub in Wiltshire.Committee members Gerry Gamble, Neil White, Linda Durno, and Alex Hall (left to right) at The Jolly Huntsman pub in Wiltshire. (Image: Rightmove)

He added: “We want to maintain a working village with employment opportunities and a vibrant life for young people.

“The pub has been here for over 300 years and is part of the village’s social fabric, it’s the social glue of the community.

“It’s a place where people of all different backgrounds can get together and that needs to be maintained.”

Mr Hall says surveys of the community show 84 per cent of residents are in favour of the project, while they have also received support from the parish council and local MP James Gray.

The Community Pub Project is now a member of the Plunkett Foundation and is registering as a Community Benefit Society.

If another appropriate buyer is found the group will stand aside and return all raised funds.

The current owners of the pub have been approached for more information.