A COMMUNITY group is aiming to breathe new life into Otley's Black Horse Hotel.

The Ei Group Plc (formerly Enterprise Inns) recently announced that it was planning to sell the nine bedroom building on Westgate.

Like all of Otley's pubs the Black Horse is registered as an Asset of Community Value (ACV): which means community groups can secure a six month period in which to put a bid together for it.

That has now happened with a proposal that would see five distinct, but inter-connected, not-for-profit businesses - a pub, a restaurant, a hotel, a function room and, in the Stables Yard, an events venue - run on the premises.

Details about the scheme were unveiled at a meeting at the Parish Church on Monday, December 10 when representatives from Otley Pub club were among those attending.

Club Chair Matt Hardin said: "We are delighted that a community group have expressed an interest in the Black Horse and have triggered the six month moratorium to seek to ensure it remains a pub and hotel, and also to add to its offer and facilities.

"The Black Horse is Otley’s Victorian coaching inn and vital for the tourist offering of the town.

"For many years it’s been clear it needs a future operating on a fair and sustainable business model, and this community vision provides such an opportunity to allow the pub and hotel to succeed as well as creating a desperately needed, larger live music venue in the town.

"It’s high time the community came together in Otley to preserve vital community assets threatened by corporate failure or council indifference, and we urge people to get behind this project to show we can do things better in our town."

The group concerned, which is due to announce its name along with more details, and a website, soon has also briefed Otley Town Council.

Council Chair Councillor Ray Georgeson (Lib Dem, Danefield) said: "We are supportive of the ambition of this group's ideas for the Black Horse, although much detail needs to be developed.

"Our Trade and Tourism Committee received a presentation from them last week and passed a resolution which supports their project in principle, and commits to assisting wherever practicable.

"I am delighted to see this initiative and really hope the community will rally around the project. The Black Horse Hotel is a fine example of a Victorian coaching inn and has iconic status in our town centre.

"For it to be transferred to community ownership could give the place the much needed boost it requires and see it once again become a vital part of the attractions of Otley."

He added: "The group has a critical window of opportunity thanks to the protection afforded by ACV status - we have Otley Pub Club and our former MP, Greg Mulholland, to thank for that."