The owners of a cherished pub in Reading have revealed the latest on whether the venue will re-open.

The Hop Leaf, on Southampton Street, was recently granted Asset of Community Value (ACV) listing by the council after a campaign from the local community.

But the pub has been closed since the coronavirus pandemic forced pubs to shut in March and did not re-open following the loosening of restrictions this summer.

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Its owners have now revealed the latest plans for the site following the ACV listing.

Alison Freezer, secretary at the Hop Back Brewery, said: “We have not yet re-opened all of our pubs.  We have no present plans to reopen the Hop Leaf.

“The ACV listing has not affected our plans but the fact that the government seems intent on making pubs unviable in an apparently illogical way – how does eating a substantial meal with a pint reduce the risk of getting Covid than just having a pint for example? – very much does.”

Why was the pub listed as an ACV?

Community group ‘Friends of the Hop Leaf’ was set up with the aim of obtaining ACV status for The Hop Leaf building, which has been home to beer since the 19th century, starting as a ‘beerhouse’.

In a petition set up in July and signed by 664 people, Friends of the Hop Leaf said: “With local community pubs constantly having the ‘axe’ hanging over them and under even more threat with the ongoing pandemic, a ‘Friends of The Hop Leaf’ group has been set up with a view to obtaining ACV status for the Hop Leaf.

“The Hop Leaf is the only ‘Real Ale’ pub left in our area, a regular on the Reading ale trail attracting many people from other areas as well as the ‘locals’

“For many, our pub is in central to their lives. A place for general socialising, being part of one of the teams linked to the pub, or members of other groups who use the Hop Leaf as a meeting place.

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“Never any trouble, friendly and a real mixture of young and old. A meeting place that is so important for people’s mental and social wellbeing.

“Many other local pubs have closed over the years, so this makes protecting the Hop Leaf even more important to the community.

“Having a pub like the Hop Leaf is vital to the local area, adding to its atmosphere, community spirit and sense of belonging to something.”

The Hop Leaf’s ACV status could provide a reason for the council to refuse consent for redevelopment and means the pub cannot be sold for alternative uses without the knowledge of the local community.

The building must be used to further the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community.

Additionally, if the owner of The Hop Leaf wants to sell the property, they must contact the council, who will notify the community group that nominated the asset.

The community group then has the opportunity to register its interest as a potential bidder, triggering a six-month moratorium period during which, subject to certain exceptions, the owner can only sell the asset if it is to a community interest group.