The Gwent village hoping to buy its only pub

RESIDENTS of a Gwent village which saw its only pub close earlier this year have come together as part of a bid to buy their local and restore it as a community hub.

The Woodlands Tavern in Llanvair Discoed – near Wentwood forest – had been on the market for several years before its owners reluctantly decided to close the pub for good in April, after it failed to sell.

South Wales Argus: People enjoying live music at the Woodlands Tavern (Picture: Mark Vosloo)People enjoying live music at the Woodlands Tavern (Picture: Mark Vosloo)

A planning application was submitted shortly after it closed to Monmouthshire County Council to develop housing on the site. However, earlier this month the plans were amended to retain the pub and build just one house on the site.

The pub has a long history in Llanvair Discoed, having been a mainstay in the village for several centuries under its former name, The Kings Arms.

Mark Vosloo, who heads up the community team hoping to buy the Woodlands Tavern, says that its closure has left them without an important social space and the semi-rural setting of the village makes it difficult to reach another pub by foot.

South Wales Argus: The Woodlands Tavern standing empty in Llanfair Discoed. (Picture: Mark Vosloo)The Woodlands Tavern standing empty in Llanfair Discoed. (Picture: Mark Vosloo)

“We’re a village of about 180 people,” Mr Vosloo told the Argus.

“The Woodlands Tavern has been a hugely important asset for Llanvair Discoed throughout the years – particularly during the pandemic.

“One of the highlights for us all was getting our takeaway meals from the pub during the lockdowns – you’d see people that you’d not seen for a while because we’d all been confined to our homes.”

South Wales Argus: The pub has been a mainstay in the village for centuries. (Picture: Mark Vosloo)The pub has been a mainstay in the village for centuries. (Picture: Mark Vosloo)

Mr Vosloo, who has lived in Llanvair Discoed for the past 13 years, is worried that the absence of a pub in the village could increase social isolation.

“When I first moved to the village, the Woodlands Tavern was where I met new people, made new friends, and joined in the active social life of the village,” he said.

“Losing the Woodlands would take part of the soul out of the village, which is why I started this campaign to save it not only as our pub, but also as a social and community hub.

“The pub used to host a monthly lunch for the older and more vulnerable people in the community – which was important for people to be able to check in with one another.”

Within a few weeks of starting the campaign, roughly £200,000 was donated by community members. Since then, almost £400,000 has been put forward to help the villagers buy the pub.

South Wales Argus: People enjoying Christmas dinner at a busy Woodlands Tavern. (Picture: Mark Vosloo)People enjoying Christmas dinner at a busy Woodlands Tavern. (Picture: Mark Vosloo)

“We’ve had lots of support from inside the village and well beyond,” Mr Vosloo said.

“Our local MP David TC Davies; Richard John, the leader of Monmouthshire council; and Peredur Owen Griffiths MS, our regional Senedd member, have also backed our campaign to keep a pub in the village.

“We’re looking at setting up a Community Benefit Society to help with buying the pub which will safeguard the pub for future generations by putting an asset lock on the business.

“The aim is not only to restore the pub, but to create a community hub. We’d like to set up a small shop to help people get essentials and have a parcel pick-up point. It would help us make life more comfortable for the villagers.”

South Wales Argus | Business