Landmark village pub could be converted to house if plans are approved

A LANDMARK village pub could be converted into a home if plans are approved.

An application has been submitted to Dorset Council outlining a scheme that would see the Black Horse pub, in Winterbourne Earls, converted into a two-bedroom property.

A report alongside the plans details how the business, in Black Horse Lane, has been non-profit making for some years, with competition and a lack of local clientele making it unviable.

“Winterbourne Earls is a small isolated and dispersed village of around 300 persons within a very
rural setting,” it said.

“It has no recognisable centre such as a grouping of shops or a market square. The access roads to the residential areas are all quite narrow and on the day of inspection were used primarily by farm traffic moving from field to field.

“The premises comprise a traditional public house directly fronting the highway. To one side is a
tarmacked surfaced customer car parking area and to the rear are trade and private gardens.

“The building is formed historically from an amalgamation of 17th Century cottages and the village forge.”

It said the pub would once have served local farm workers, but changes in the ‘rural economy and the much reduced rural population has meant the pub has had to rely on car-borne custom or heavy use by the remaining residents’.

Plans showing how the building would be converted. Picture: MT Planning & Design/Wiltshire Council

Plans showing how the building would be converted. Picture: MT Planning & Design/Wiltshire Council

“The drink drive laws and the non-smoking rules have made rural pubs less attractive destinations for drinkers and this public house being so isolated had a declining drinks trade,” it went on.

“Because of the decline in beer consumption and subsequent wastage the pub has now ceased trading.

“There is a well documented list of previous managers and owners with extensive knowledge of the industry who have all failed to make this business work.

“The problem is the very nature of it being in a small village which has no heart and within easy reach of at least three other pubic houses, located in more compact, attractive villages.”

It continues to outline problems in making the business profitable, concluding how an exemption to planning rules designed to protect ‘community assets’, such as pubs, should be ‘seriously considered’.

“The best chance of preserving the building for generations to come is to allow a change of use to residential, giving a private homeowner reason to protect their personally held asset through maintenance and restoration which would in turn benefit the village,” the report added.

“My final conclusion is that this small public house in an isolated dispersed community is non-viable and that an exception to the council’s planning policy should be seriously considered in this case.”

For more information, and to comment on the plans, log on to and search for application reference PL/2023/06931.

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