15 AUG 2018
John Longden FRICS, OBE, FRSA launched the not-for-profit organisation Pub is The Hub in 2001 following an inspirational idea from HRH The Prince of Wales that rural pubs might be able to provide vital local services for their communities.
John qualified as a chartered surveyor in 1972. By the 1980s, John was working with Grand Metropolitan, having also spent time as the Tied Trade Director in the North. In 1989 he managed the pub and hotels portfolio for Bass and Holiday Inn and was also on the main board at Greenalls as Group Director. From 2001 John was employed as a consultant in private practice with surveying firm Gerald Eve.
Today, John is supported by senior volunteers from the property, drinks and pubs industries, all keen to help licensees diversify, thereby tackling issues of social isolation and making a huge difference to deprived communities. Over 800 projects have been completed nationwide.
In 2013 when regional public funding began to deplete, John set about raising funds for a ‘Community Services Fund’ whereby pubs can apply for small grants to provide impetus to their projects. Since its introduction it has contributed over £200k to over 100 projects, benefitting thousands of people and leveraged more private and public funding.
Pub schemes make an immediate impact on those accessing them and they also create a ripple effect with regard to growth; from the farmer supplying additional locally-grown food to a new shop creating local employment and volunteering or more tourists or visitors coming into the area.
John possesses a comprehensive and professional knowledge of licensed property and he has combined this knowledge to generate collaboration between pub owning organisations, trade bodies, local authorities, government and other partners to improve essential services in rural areas.
John’s expertise means that he has successfully negotiated with the valuation office to include consideration for rural pub diversification in the 2010 Guide to the Valuation of Public Houses (point 7.6) so as not to penalise those operators who are helping to improve community amenities.
John also lobbies government on behalf of the hundreds of small business owners operating licensed properties as an advisor to many trade organisations and initiatives as well as directly through his belief that rural pub businesses are often the ‘last business standing’ in many fragile rural infrastructures. He is a frequent advisor regarding policy issues around community ownership of rural pubs.
In 2013 John was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by his peers at The Publican Awards and Pub is The Hub picked up Best Industry Initiative of the Year.
In 2014 he was awarded an OBE for voluntary services to rural communities in the UK.