COUNTY planners have rejected proposals to convert a closed pub near Bromyard into semi-detached houses.

Applicant Peter Styles wanted to convert the Wheatsheaf Inn in Whitbourne into a four and a three-bedroom home.

But Herefordshire Council has refused permission because there is not enough evidence that the pub would not be a viable business and could not continue to meet community needs.

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Mark Haslam, a Campaign for Real Ale spokesman, said he was concerned losing the inn permanently would hurt the local village and affect job opportunities and trade in the rural area.

“It is our view that the permanent loss of the Wheatsheaf Inn should only be considered where it can be demonstrated that there has been a genuine effort first made to sell the business as a going concern,” he said.

“To not do so would be at odds with Herefordshire Council policy SC1 and the relevant clauses in the National Planning Policy Framework document. There appears to be no evidence to support this position accompanying the application.

“It is vital that we protect our pubs from opportunist developers, for as valued community assets, they provide social amenity and add to the well-being of local communities without any call on the public purse. And once they are gone they are gone forever.”

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Whitbourne Parish Council said it supported residential development of the site but raised concerns over road safety on the A44 Worcester road when accessing or leaving the property.

Barbara McKenzie, a former parish councillor, supported the scheme and felt it was the best way forward for the old pub.

“It is a terrible eyesore and worry to both the neighbours and village generally,” she said.

“It is only a few hundred metres from the Hereford county boundary sign and serves as a very poor advertisement for the county on a major route to both the city and its beautiful countryside.”