Local businessman Philip Milton to present ‘schematic ideas’ to villagers next month.

Philip Milton, owner of the White Hart in Bratton Fleming. Picture: Andy KeeblePhilip Milton, owner of the White Hart in Bratton Fleming. Picture: Andy Keeble

Plans for Bratton Fleming’s White Hart are beginning to take shape – says the man who bought the pub.

North Devon businessman Philip Milton admitted he had ‘no idea’ what to do with the building when he purchased it at a knock-down price in April last year. It has been closed since December 2012.

But this week he told the Gazette that it could reopen as a pub, complete with tea room, shop and other community facilities needed in the village.

A planning application would also seek permission for new homes, although the amount is currently unclear.

“The pub had been up for sale for 18 months so I bought it for a ludicrous price,” said Mr Milton.

“I knew it was not viable as a pub but it was good value and I saw an opportunity for something.

“There is enough space for a pub, shop and a café or tea room – but they need to be paid for. The overall project needs some form of enabling development.”

Mr Milton said he had been working with architects and would be presenting his ‘schematic ideas’ to villagers at an open meeting in the village hall on Thursday, August 20, from 7-9pm.

Feedback would help shape a planning application for the project, possibly by the end of the year.

“That’s the picture I have in my mind but I am still open to suggestions from the community,” he said.

“A pub on its own is not one of the options, it would be totally unviable.

“It would need to turn over upwards of £6,000 a week from day one – that’s £6 per week from every man, woman and child in Bratton Fleming, not really feasible.

“As a pub itself it would probably gobble up around £75,000 to £100,000 just to get it open again.

“However, there could be scope for a tea room-cum-café, a shop and a scaled down pub. There is no tea room between the moor and Barnstaple.”

Mr Milton said he had already spent money repairing two of the three chimneys and part of the roof of the pub, which dates back to 1850.

“We’ve had a full survey of the building, as well as a topographical survey,” he said.

But villagers who successfully listed the pub as an asset of community value in September last year have already rejected the new proposals without seeing them.

Trevor Hilton, a former pub landlord himself, said: “We’ve got our vision and he has got his; quite honestly they are poles apart at the moment. It’s not what we envisage; what he is offering is too small and we don’t think it will work.

“If we are to make it a viable option and a going concern we need all the rooms in the pub to open and to offer good food at reasonable prices.”

Mr Hilton said the group had already raised ‘a substantial amount of money’.

“We have been raising money and are part way there. I’m confident we could raise the cash for the place,” he said.

“We are under no illusion that the size of the project and what would need doing; but we’ve got architects, builders and plumbers in the village who I’m sure would be happy to volunteer their expertise.”