THE owners of the sole remaining pub in Sixpenny Handley have successfully overturned the refusal of planning permission for its conversion into flats.

East Dorset District Council rejected the plans last year following concerns the loss of the Roebuck Inn “could be the final nail in the coffin” for the village.

But the decision has been overruled by planning inspector Andrew Tucker who said he was “satisfied” this would not be the case.

“Similar venues for socialising do exist in the village,” his report said. “I accept that [the Penny Tap] is not a traditional public house and does not offer food and opening is limited.

“However, evidence demonstrates its clear popularity and I have no reason to believe it does not provide a similar social function to that provided by the Roebuck Inn.”

He added: “I am satisfied that the remaining provision of services in the village would be adequate and the loss of the Roebuck Inn would not result in the substantial decline of such facilities.”

Council planning officers had recommended the conversion of the building be approved ahead of the meeting of its planning committee in December last year.

But councillors voted to refuse the application, despite pub owner John Fury saying it had been run at a loss for “six or seven years”.

“I’m concerned that, bit by bit, we are starving this village of its facilities through piecemeal developments,” councillor Toni Coombs said at the meeting.

“I do hear all the arguments about ‘use it or lose it’ but there must come a point when we are required to consider whether other local services are available.”

The decision was challenged by Mr Fury who said the pub was no longer a viable business and its loss would not substantially reduce the quality of services in the village.

He was backed by Mr Tucker who allowed the appeal at the end of last month, overturning the decision to refuse planning permission.