A CAMPAIGN group has been set up to try to save Swallowcliffe’s Grade II listed pub from being converted into a house.

Richmond Bell Architects Ltd has applied to Wiltshire Council to change the Royal Oak into a residential dwelling but residents are working together to try to keep it as a pub.

A planning statement by Indigo Planning, on behalf of Richmond Bell, says: “The Royal Oak has been vacant for over four years and the condition of the property has deteriorated significantly during this time. In its current status, the property is likely to remain vacant for the foreseeable future.”

The statement also said it has been “clearly demonstrated” that the pub is “no longer viable”.

But more than 100 local residents disagree and have set up a campaign group which has raised enough money to restore the building to its former glory and reopen it as a community pub.

Resident Yvonne Harris said: “We just want our pub back; it was a wonderful place for everyone to meet, after church events, for the elderly, for families and generally for the community to come together.”

At a Swallowcliffe Parish Council meeting held in February, councillors unanimously opposed to the application for change of use.

Peter Smales, a resident who is behind the campaign, said: “The village is up in arms, we really want our pub back and without it we’re not going to be able to be a proper village. We’re very proud of our village and we found when we had the pub working people came and visited but we’ve lost all that, it’s died a death.

“We are determined to get it back and for it not to be another expensive house in the village for one family; we think we should have another crack at making it work.”

Since the pub closed, residents have been meeting up for a drink at the village hall on a Friday night but Mr Smales said: “It’s not the same as having a pub. It’s been there for 200 years and once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

A decision on the planning application will be made by Wiltshire Council following the public consultation period which ends on March 15.