Bid to transform country pub into thriving community space takes giant step forward with major grant

A huge £2m grant will transform a historic but closed pub into a thriving community centre. Pailton Parish Council received the money from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for the Save the White Lion campaign.

The Grade II-listed 18th-century inn closed in 2018, leaving the village bereft as its last shop closed in 2014. But the £2,040,170 will see it restored, becoming a community pub with a restaurant, cafe, shop and post office.

There will also be accommodation, enterprise units, co-working space and landscaped gardens. Planning permission was obtained earlier this year and if all goes as hoped, the store could open in around 12 months, followed by the pub in early 2026.

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Parish Councilor Tina Simpson, who led the project, said: “We are delighted to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players. And we’re confident the project will put the heart back into Pailton, bringing much-needed amenities and telling the heritage story. for the wider community.”

Pailton Parish Council acquired the White Lion in 2019 as an asset of community value and will be run by a community interest company. The £2 million grant is the culmination of four years of work to progress through funding rounds.

The parish council describes the deal as “probably the biggest project by a parish council in the Rugby borough and the most important thing to happen in Pailton for a generation”. Once open, it is hoped the hub will provide family activities, volunteering opportunities and work experience.

The White Lion is believed to have started life in the late 16th or early 17th century as a small farm and then became an inn to serve the turnpike road.