COUNCILLORS have given the go-ahead for plans to turn a historic pub into flats - despite campaigners rallying against the proposals.

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s Planning and Traffic Committee voted in favour of transforming the Albert Inn, Wyke Regis into five residential flats.

Wyke locals had tried to save the historic pub, but councillors believe it has been neglected and campaigners did not support the pub financially by using the facilities.

The proposals had been recommended for approval – before the committee gave the plans the green light yesterday.

In October 2012, the pub was put up for sale when it became financially unviable. No-one came forward to take it over as a pub, and it was purchased by Harding Holdings in November last year.

The owners will convert the Grade II listed building into five residential flats, along with five parking spaces and a courtyard, using part of the existing beer garden and former cellar yard.

The West Dorset branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) had previously failed to get the pub listed as an Asset of Community Value because of the nearby Wyke Smugglers pub.

Wyke resident and CAMRA campaigner Alex Bardswell spoke out at the committee meeting against the proposals.

“It had been extremely viable for many years until a company took it over and then it started to go downhill” said Ms Bardswell.

“The previous landlord did an extremely good job and looked after it properly.

“The petition has gained 244 signatures which shows the significant feeling of local people. The pub is also in a Conservation Area and it should be kept as a pub.

“People say that the pub is the hub and it would be a disaster if the only pub in Wyke was completely gone.”

Councillor Paul Kimber had sympathy for the campaigners and was the only committee member to vote against the proposals.

He said: “I am concerned that it could rip out the soul of the village. I am glad that we are looking at a pub in our Local Plan as this committee has been very good to old Wyke.

“Some villages in Dorset have been able to get people together and form a co-operative to save old pubs. It’s a shame that something similar could not have happened here.”

Councillor Margaret Leicester backed the proposals. “People’s drinking habits have clearly changed these days,” she said.

“People are more aware of driving when drinking and many enjoy a different lifestyle. I do think the plans are a worthwhile use of the site and believe it should go ahead.”

Councillor Sandy West agreed that the proposals should be approved.

“At the moment the pub looks pretty sad and neglected,” explained Cllr West.

“I think it will certainly enhance the area. There are 500 houses in the village so you think there would be enough people to keep the pub open, but sadly not.”