PLANS to turn a closed Tisbury pub into a community hub were met with a protest on Saturday, with around 130 participants.

As previously reported, a campaign to raise £250,000 will be launched by Tisbury Community Benefit Society on September 9, in order to take The South Western, an empty pub, into community ownership and run it as a community business.

However conflicted views across the village resulted in the protest, to highlight residents' concerns with this scheme and their want for the venue on Station Road to return to a pub that is open for business.

READ MORE: Community campaign launched to take over Tisbury pub >>>

Lara Stopps, a spokesperson for the group, said the protest action urged the community share group to reconsider the location of its new hub, as similar facilities like the Nadder Centre are nearby that would consequently suffer and lose out on business.

She was "chuffed" with the turn out, adding: "Everyone at the protest was in good spirits and were users of the pub before, so there was a lot of passion, and people welcomed the opportunity to readdress the balance and show we want the pub back."

As reported, the crowdfunding group plans to raise funds to buy the building from the current owner, a subsidiary of Heineken, through a community share offer and a mixture of grants and loans from social investors.

The South Western closed its doors more than a year ago, and if the new community share plans succeed, the former pub will reopen as a cafe, with space for pop-up restaurant nights.

It will also become home to a zero-plastic refill shop and a co-working space for local freelancers and start-ups.

Martin Thomas, chairman of the Tisbury Community Benefit Society, said: "We firmly believe that the future of The South Western should be in the hands of the village and its residents, today and tomorrow. By taking it into community ownership, we can be sure that it always serves our needs.”

Tor Hillier, vice-chair of the Tisbury Community Benefit Society, added: "The South Western has the potential to be a tremendous asset to the Tisbury community, both as an affordable and attractive place to eat, drink and socialise, and as a place to save the planet and build local businesses of the future."

If the community share plan does not go ahead, buyers have already come forward and shown interest in taking over the pub.

Local business man, Patrick Duffy, said a new hub would "damage the high street", and is "a daft thing to do", adding: "We are very lucky because we already have a vibrant, successful high street that works well for the community.

"The pub is a valuable and integral part of the community and shouldn't be changed to things we already have. And new buyers cannot invest in the pub for six months because of the community group, so the building may spend another winter not getting used but getting damaged."

"It is frustrating because there are people here ready to spend money and restore the pub to its former glory as the centre of the community, but it has been blocked by a small minority," Lara added.

"Some of the new aspects should be brought to Tisbury, like zero-plastic, but I fear for other local businesses, as we already have such fantastic services in Tisbury that we fought hard for."