New playground now open in Alton thanks to a National Lottery bid by the village’s community owned White Hart pub

A children’s playground has opened in a Staffordshire Moorlands village, thanks to the efforts of the community run committee behind a popular local pub.

The play area at the rear of the White Hart, Alton, has been made possible following a successful grant application to the National Lottery Awards For All fund by the Community Interest Company which runs the pub and the neighbouring village allotments.

Tom Wilkinson, who chairs the CIC, said the aims of the White Hart group went far beyond ensuring the future of the historic High Street hostelry.

“We strive to benefit the people of Alton and, in this case, we saw the demand for new play facilities and researched whether community funding may be available,” explained Tom.

“The play area lies behind the rear garden of the pub and is accessible even if the White Hart bar is closed. It’s well positioned, next to the church and on the walk home from the village primary school for many parents and their young children.”

Tom helped to lead a fight to save the pub nine years ago, buying and renovating the premises, together with the allotment site.

The CIC has since made many improvements, including creating a rental apartment, refurbishing B&B rooms, and carrying out major improvements to the bar area. They also successfully applied for the White Hart, the oldest pub in Alton, to be listed as an asset of community value by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.

Current plans include making further improvements to the garden area at the rear of the White Hart, including new seating and a more permanent wooden gazebo.

Tom added: “The White Hart has always been an important centre of the community and the aim of the CIC is to ensure we can support as many local community groups as possible. Before applying for grants towards the play area, we did research, formulating a questionnaire for villagers to establish the need.”

The CIC came together when it was feared the pub could be permanently closed. Shares were sold to raise the £270,000 asking price for the pub, allotments, and outbuildings. Planning permission was recently won to transform the outbuildings into a micro-brewery for Alton’s Rural Brewing Co.



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