PROTESTERS came out in force against plans to turn a bulldozed pub into a car park.

The Railway Inn, in Station Road, Whitchurch was torn down earlier this month, and owner of the land, Lochailort Investments Limited, has applied to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council to turn the site into a temporary car park.

But Whitchurch residents are outraged that signs have already gone up advertising £2.50 all-day parking, when permission has not yet been granted for the site to be used for this purpose.

John Buckley, from Whitchurch, who is the regional director of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), said the developers should have to prove it is not viable as a pub before permission is granted for a change of use.

He added: “What CAMRA want is for them to prove that it can’t be run as a pub. And running it down deliberately isn’t the way to do that.”

Mike Stead, of Newbury Street, organised the protest, where around 25 people gathered next to the empty site waving placards reading ‘Don’t Bully Whitchurch’ and ‘Community need not developer greed.’ He said of the developers: “Their arrogance is staggering – to say they are opening soon and permits are available. They are assuming they will get the planning permission.”

Steve Wright, 27, from Whitchurch, said: “We will have commuters coming from Newbury and they will get used to travelling here.”

Whitchurch borough Councillor Keith Watts said it was believed there was a well on the site, which was another concern.

Many protesters were angry that three large trees on the land had been chopped down.

Glynn Lewis, of Lynchill Park, Whitchurch, said: “When they are gone, they are gone. It’s terrible bullying.”

The car park application is for up to 47 vehicles to act as an overspill for rail commuters and additional parking for residents and visitors.

No one from Lochailort Investments Limited was available to comment.