CAMPAIGNERS trying to re-open a popular pub once frequented by author CS Lewis hope it will be back in business in the New Year.

The Ampleforth Arms in Risinghurst closed its doors in June last year after owners Punch Taverns placed it on the market to be sold.

Since then, residents on the estate have formed company The Amp Community Ltd to try to save their local watering hole from being lost forever by raising money to buy it as well as registering it as an asset of community value.

But today the Oxford Mail can reveal the community group are in discussions with the pub's owners to secure a short-term lease to revive the free house, with a view to eventually purchasing it.

Lyn Simms, chairwoman of The Amp Community Ltd, said there had been "positive" discussions with Punch Taverns, adding she was waiting to here back from the pub chain on their head of terms offer.

The 56-year-old, who has lived in Risinghurst for more than 30 years, said: "We have put forward our heads of terms offer and we will see where we go from there.

"It's a case of hanging around and waiting but we hope to be open for business next year.

"It's all very positive.

"We have said all the way through not to underestimate us. It's been closed for a long time, but we hope it will be open for the community next year."

Mrs Simms said the company had opted for a "different route" to buying the pub, buy looking to secure a commercial lease for a few years.

She added campaigners had looked around the pub and made initial plans of how they would run the business.

In the past year The Save The Amp group has contacted Oxford businesses to see if they would like to invest in shares of the Ampleforth Arms.

The pub originally opened in 1939 and according to CS Lewis expert Ronald Brind, it was frequented by the Narnia author and fellow writer JRR Tolkien.

At least three pubs in Oxfordshire have been bought and run as community companies – the White Hart in Wolvercote, the Bull Inn, Great Milton, and the Seven Stars in Marsh Baldon.

When the Risinghurst pub closed, it was placed on the market for £625,000 by Punch Taverns after 75 years in business.

Its sale was halted thanks to it being registered as an asset of community value, which ended in February.

Mrs Simms said the company were still selling shares in the business for £50 each.

She added: "We are still planning for the long term so if anyone wants to buy shares in the company they can get in touch.

"The Amp has been closed for too long."

Anyone interested in becoming involved in the Amp's revival can attend a meeting on Tuesday, August 23 at 7.15pm in Risinghurst Community Centre, Kiln Lane.