MEMBERS of the Longparish community stood up to block a developer over plans to transform a pub into a family home.

Dozens of residents aired their views on Patrick Langdown’s, director of Dorset Flint and Stone Blocks Limited, bid to renovate The Plough in the village into a five-bedroom home during a Planning Inspectorate meeting on Tuesday.

Mr Langdown submitted the application in June last year, but it was refused by Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) saying the plan “would erode the character of this historic village by virtue of the loss of an historic community facility”.

Planning chiefs also criticised Mr Langdown, claiming that he had supplied insufficient information and justification that the pub could no longer be used.

One by one, members of community group Plough Ahead lined up to argue the viability to the site’s future as a pub and the need for the facility.

Graeme Francis, secretary of Longparish Community Pub Ltd — the group looking to takeover the inn — said: “In terms of its future yes there is an ability to diversify.

“There is the possibility of the development of a cafe, delicatessen, farm shop with a local family shop.”

And chairman of the Longparish Community Association, Andy Joliffe said: “As a pub it is still a very viable business. We believe it is a viable business. As a community owned pub, as a facility which offers a large range of community owned services.”

In a bid to run the pub the community group has been awarded grants from TVBC and from the Plunkett Foundation which works with rural areas to launch local amenities.

And TVBC councillor David Drew said: “We must keep communities together. There was a discussion whether the community has been involved and asked, well they jolly well are now. They want and need this facility to succeed. In my view they should be given a chance.”

There was even a statement from MP Caroline Nokes in support of the community.

But Mr Langdown’s representative argued that the pub had been continually marketed for six months - the amount time TVBC call for in policy - and only one bid was put forward, that from Mr Langdown.

She added: “Enterprise Inns were the owners of the pub, we have been provided with evidence and the evidence that we have heard [today]...a number of the tenants in the pub have been successful to start with but within a few years that tenancy has ended.We have got a history of 15 years of short lived tenancies.”

She continued: “It was determined that there was no future use for the pub to continue running as a pub.”

Residents argued that now the pub is freehold there is the possibility for the pub to succeed, free of ties from a large company.

The representative also said that there is already a pub in the village, The Cricketers, but opposers said that it is miles from much of the houses in the village.

The Planning Inspectorate is expected to make a decision on the plan in the coming months.