Campaigners have suffered a setback in their fight to stop a Long Lawford pub being turned into a house.
But they are vowing to continuing their battle to save what they say is a valuable neighbourhood amenity.
Rugby Borough Council’s planning committee voted last week to grant permission for the change of use, despite more than 200 opponents signing a petition. And activist Pete McLaren is keen to maintain the pressure and keep the Sheaf & Sickle in Lawford Road as a pub.
He said: “This does not mean we have completely lost the battle .
“All that has changed is that the new owner can, if he or she so decides, turn the pub into a private dwelling. We have therefore decided to keep the petition active, and try to persuade more people to sign it. If so, there is an outside chance the new owner will respond to the weight of local opposition to his plans and sell to someone who would keep the Sheaf as a pub.”
The campaigners argue that there are already enough houses in Long Lawford, particularly around the Sheaf & Sickle, and that pubs are important to keep communities together.
Mr McLaren added: “Such developments need local amenities and community facilities, including a pub.
“We will be leafleting the local area to thank residents, and to inform them we are continuing the campaign. The new owner may now think twice.”
But planning officer Owain Williams expressed doubts as to the commercial viability of the pub, which went on the market for £275,000 in January last year and attracted little interest, despite the asking price falling to £250,000 a few months later. It has been closed for the past few months.
In his report for the planning committee, he stated: “Five tenants have been made bankrupt through the business, the property has not received any funding for maintenance for a decade and there are another two successful pubs within the main rural settlement. This last point indicates that there are other community facilities within the village and that the community is not completely reliant on this pub.”
Mr Williams recommended the committee grant permission for the application, which was lodged by Ian Ashworth of Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire. At the meeting, Cllr Michael Stokes (Con, Admirals & Cawston) proposed that the application should be approved. Cllr Matthew Francis (Con, Rokeby & Overslade) seconded.
Mr McLaren is standing as a candidate in the county council elections today (Thursday), representing the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in the Lawford & New Bilton division. For a full list of candidates, visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/elections