Residents campaigning to save their village pub - listed as an ‘asset of community value’ - have staged a protest against a change of use application for the building.
On Saturday, residents of Thorpe Morieux joined the Friends of Thorpe Bull for a ‘lockout’ event outside the village’s much-loved Bull Inn.
Representatives of the pool, darts and cribbage teams displaced by the pub’s closure last year held up empty glasses, along with other former pub regulars, in a symbolic gesture showing their dissatisfaction.
The Friends wish to see the pub reopen under community ownership but have had an offer of £200,000 - the figure of an independent valuation for the pub - rejected ‘without negotiation or comment’.
Now the owner is seeking a change of use for the property and is already marketing it as a five bedroom detached house, for sale at £425,000.
Friends spokesman Steve Cowper said: “It is our belief that the current owner has no desire in running the Bull Inn as a pub and simply wants to convert it to the more financially lucrative option of housing.”
Thorpe Morieux Parish Council has recommended the change of use be refused, saying it believes the pub has been described as a bric-a-brac shop named The Bull Inn a China Shop in ‘an effort to circumnavigate planning requirements designed to protect vital community assets’.
In its objection, the council said: “We would urge the planning authority to fully consider the legitimacy of the declared use as a bric-a-brac shop.
“From evidence available to parish council members and village residents, the bric-a-brac shop has not been an actively operated business at any stage.”
Pub owner Carol Gibson was unavailable for comment.