Council and owners of shut-down Northampton pub reach out-of-court settlement over covenant

Councillor James Hill outside the Barn Owl pub before it closed.
Councillor James Hill outside the Barn Owl pub before it closed.

A long-running battle between Rectory Farm residents and the pub company who sold off their local watering hole looks to have come to an end with the offer of a community payout.

It has now been two years since Hawthorn Leisure announced plans to sell the Barn Owl pub in Olden Road to supermarket developers.

The site as it looks now.

The site as it looks now.

More than 550 people wrote a letter of objection to the plan when campaigners discovered the site was protected for community use by a 1980s covenant.

It led Northampton Borough Council to launch legal action against Hawthorn Leisure for removing the site's legal protection as a community building.

Councillor James Hill (Con, Rectory Farm) now claims the council has now settled on a fee with the pub company.

He said: "The council has made an out-of-court settlement with Hawthorn Leisure for the release of the protective building covenant.

The Barn Owl pub before it was shut down.

The Barn Owl pub before it was shut down.

"The amount is a significant increase on monies previously offered and I have assurances from the leader of the council that this money will be reinvested into the Rectory Farm community.

"The council is aiming to make a statement this week when they will reveal further details.

"While this of course, won't get our pub back I believe the news is a good outcome given the circumstances."

The council is yet to disclose how much money will be available for investment.

Most of the 550 letters of objection back in 2016 lamented the loss of Rectory Farm's last remaining pub and feared the new Co-op would put a popular Costcutter store out of business nearby.

Commenting on Facebook, Rectory Farm resident Frazer Moore said the money could be used to convert the old farm house buildings in the area into a community space.

He said: "By having something like this it could benefit the whole community.

"The farm house would be put back in to use and there would be a club for the residents of Rectory Farm to use for social gatherings and a place for local residents to socialise with each other."