VILLAGERS have won their battle to save the local pub from allegedly harmful development.

Councillors voted down a plan to develop the Purefoy Arms in Preston Candover, north of Alresford.

Red Oak Taverns had applied for planning permission to convert outbuildings into two separate residential properties for sale.

The pub would still operate but campaigners feared it would harm its long-term viability and lead to its closure.

The development would have taken a chunk of the pub garden.

Jonny Marriott, who led the opposition campaign, said: “We have won the battle but the war may not be won, Red Oak may appeal; but for now let’s enjoy this moment.”

Basingstoke and Deane borough councillors voted unanimously to refuse the planning application at a meeting last Wednesday after the Chronicle had gone to press.

The committee had been recommended by its planning officers to approve the plans.

The pub closed last October but reopened in May with a new tenant Gordon Stott.

Mr Marriott, said: “We had hoped the investment and the tenancy that Gordon has secured from Red Oak would indicate a change in direction from them, and they had changed their strategy for the Purefoy, and would be satisfied for it to be run as a successful pub and restaurant.”

Mark Grunell, Red Oak director, said: "Having attended the planning hearing personally, I heard the concerns raised by the local community and fully understand their position.

"Whilst I think it is unlikely that we will appeal, we have yet to make any firm decision. What I can say is that we will certainly be engaging with local community representatives to examine all options for bringing the disused outbuilding into use for the future benefit of the pub and community, before we move forward with anything else."

The pub is the last in the area following the closure of the Crown at Axford