Following Lidl’s decision to sell the site in June 2016, the Porcupine Development Committee (PDC) has taken a three-pronged approach. The most favoured options from the 2013 consultation, were to ensure that the community could enjoy a good quality local evening venue, and a daytime facility where people could meet and children would be welcome.
The options being considered are:
- Purchase of The Porcupine by a Pub or Restaurant company, or an independent operator, to run it as a business without influence from the community. This option is becoming unlikely since no company has come forward despite efforts by the PDC.
- The Community to raise funds to buy the site and develop the Porcupine in line with residents’ wishes, taking into account that it must be a viable business. Many grants which were available when the community applied for Asset of Community Value (ACV) status, have now dried up. Land prices have risen exponentially, and Lidl have not yet declared a price. This option would involve a mixture of grants (small), a community share offer and bank borrowing; it remains on the table, but would be subject to sufficient capital being raised from shares. A large loan would render the business unviable.
- To join with a not-for-profit organisation, for example a housing association or health provider, who would provide some capital, and professional help to 4 develop a Community Hub which would include social/health facilities as well as an evening venue. A share issue would still be required. Mottingham is an isolated community with few facilities. This last option would seem to be the most achievable.
Business Plans for options 2 & 3, a Share Prospectus and grant applications are in preparation. A possible social partner is being sought. When these things are in place, residents will be consulted on feasible options and the facilities they would wish to be included in the preferred scheme. The PDC has until 27th December, 2016, to bid for the Porcupine. Whilst Lidl cannot sell to anyone else before that date, they are not obliged to sell to the community. Lidl are taking a petulant attitude to the PDC, and do not respond to attempts to contact them. The ACV, which restricts the use of the site to a public house or similar, remains in force until March, 2018, unless the PDC withdraws it. It can be renewed, but a request would need to be seen as reasonable, with some end in prospect. The PDC remains optimistic that we will soon see the end of this awful blue hoarding. Ted Rowlands – PDC chair