WHITCHURCH residents are raising their voices after the owner of an 18th century pub has sought permission to convert it into two houses.

The Red House Pub on London Street was closed in 2018 after the owners said it is “losing money every week.”

Now they have applied permission for change of use of the building from a public house to two dwellings – a two-bedroom house and a three-bedroom house.

The application already has 22 public comments – all objecting to the plan.

Councillor Ian Tilbury, who represents Whitchurch, Overton & Laverstoke in Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, said it’s tragic to see the village pub being converted into houses.

“It used to be a thriving pub,” Cllr Tilbury said.

“But a few years ago [in 2015], the owners got permission to build houses at its big beer garden and car park. They argued that they were doing it to make the pub viable. But once they got permission, they built and sold the houses and just gave up the pub.”

The owners had previously got permission to build three houses on the pub’s car park and beer garden areas. It was approved after the owners convinced the council that the houses will help

Cllr Tilbury added that he used to go there for a drink quite regularly when he was much younger, but he is sad to see the sorry state of it now.

“It was foolish to allow the other developments to go on. That’s shouldn’t have happened,” he said.

The pub was permanently closed in 2018 after the owners announced it will temporarily close for a refurbishment as it was “losing money every week.”

It was also put up on the market before that for £475,000.

There was also an attempt from the residents to save the building by buying it and running it as a community pub, but their efforts were in vain.

Whitchurch Town Councillor John Buckley said: “Public houses have been an intrinsic part of the Whitchurch community and essential to its success as a vibrant town. In recent years the town has seen this eroded with the closure of several other pubs, which are all part of the social and economic infrastructure. With continuing expansion and further housing planned we need to support the retention of our local businesses. The Red House is part of that.”

Commenting on the planning permission, Mrs Helen Hammond, a Whitchurch resident, wrote: “The Red House was a thriving pub/restaurant for many years - one of the busiest pubs in town. The Red House themselves said in their earlier planning application for houses on the car park that it was a thriving business in 2015 and needed improvement so as not to be a victim of their own success.

“Their 2018 Facebook statement claimed there was a ‘dramatic fall in revenue over the past three years’. However, over the three years leading up to ‘temporary closure’ the pub saw a significant deterioration in both the material decor and upkeep.

“The restaurant side was closed, menu's changed and moved away from the high end quality which was very much their USP. At this time windows were broken, walls had visible damp and decor was in a poor state. It is no surprise that revenues declined dramatically.”

To view the application, click here.