THE city council has bought a former city centre pub with a vision of turning it into flats.

Winchester City Council has bought The Corner House, on North Walls, after it shut its doors over a year ago and remained empty ever since.

It wants to build new city centre flats on the site, which was on the market through Savills priced at £500,000, until it was bought by the council in February.

The pub is just one of a number of properties that the council is in negotiations to purchase.

Speaking at a recent cabinet meeting, Cllr Kelsie Learney, cabinet member for housing and asset management, said: “We have purchased a number of properties which includes the Corner House pub on North Walls which is an exciting opportunity for us to create new city centre flats, however a number of the purchases referred to in that original report have fallen through while fresh opportunities have arisen and we are now in negotiations on a number of different properties to those originally referred to.”

The authority says that the scheme plans to “assist with the increase of housing property stock across the Winchester district”.

Following the announcement, Deric Payne, chairman of Southern Hampshire Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), said that the group are seeing pubs turned into flats “more and more”.

Mr Payne said: “I think it is a terrible shame that any pub has to close, without a doubt. Winchester has got a good beer scene but if people don’t use it they are going to lose it.

“The real fact is that supermarkets are now selling cheap beer and people are buying it.”

Mr Payne also said that the smoking ban has had an affect on pubs, adding that some have closed because of it.

It is not known when the council will submit an application to convert the pub or how many flats are expected to be built.