‘IT’S a race against time’.

That is the message from the group hoping to take over an Otley pub and transform it into a ‘thriving community hub’.

LS21 Limited was given six months to put together a bid for the Black Horse Hotel after the Ei Group announced it was selling the Westgate property last year.

The team, made up of five local residents, wants the building to provide a pub, restaurant, hotel, function room and - in the Stables Yard - an events venue, run on a not-for-profit basis with the building owned by the community.

First, though, it has to secure the necessary funds - £650,000 in total - before the end of April.

LS21 member Linda Sharp said: “The clock is ticking, it is a race against time to get the funding we need secured and we need public support.

“We have a detailed business plan, a planning application has gone in and we’ve taken all necessary first steps.

“The six month moratorium we gained, due to the Black Horse’s Asset of Community Value status, started as soon as it went on sale so it hasn’t given us much time.

“This venture is about community - it’s for the community, by the community and we’re all Otley people trying to make it happen. It’s not charitable but it is not-for-profit and any profits will be reinvested into the community.”

A website giving full details of the proposals is now up and running at www.ls21.org.uk and a prospectus has also been produced. The team is seeking to raise much of the money it needs through private investors and social enterprise funding, but also needs a significant contribution from residents.

It is hoping to raise £210,000 from individuals (or groups of four) who pay £2,100 each to join as Community Members, and another £44,100 from Community Partners who are being asked to contribute £210 apiece.

Community Contributors, meanwhile, are being invited to make donations of any size.

Messages of support for the scheme have been pouring in from groups and venues across Otley, with the Town Council welcoming ‘ambitious plans to restore the Black Horse Hotel to the heart of business in our town’. Otley Pub Club Chair Matt Hardin, meanwhile, said: “We wish LS21 best of luck with their exciting vision and hope the people of Otley will get behind this excellent initiative.”