Plans to bring a historic pub back to its former glory are not expected to start until later this year, following further setbacks.

The King’s Arms in High East Street closed its doors back in 2015 but it was soon taken over by another company and plans for a major refurbishment project were given the thumbs up.

Owners Stay Original Co, previously the Draco Pub Company, previously said the King’s Arms would re-open in 2017 but it now looks as though the doors will remained closed until early 2019.

Since closing, the deterioration of the pub has not gone unnoticed by councillors and members of the public.

Town crier Alistair Chisholm, said the deterioration of the building had caused “some concern”.

He said: “I’m still optimistic that the company will make a grand job of the King’s Arms but with every month that passes we are noticing more and more deterioration.

“This is a very, very important building in Dorchester and it has such great historic meaning.

“Dorchester is growing more and more and it becoming more well-known. We need this building to be restored. I hope work starts soon, I would be very upset if no work started this year. This building is so important to everyone who lives in the town and it has so much potential to be an amazing pub and hotel.

“With it being a listed building I knew there would be some delays and ‘differences of opinion’, but the sooner the work starts, the better.”

The pub is thought to be more than 280 years old and featured in Thomas Hardy’s novel The Mayor of Casterbridge.

Rob Greacen, managing director of Stay Original Ltd, said: “We’re in discussions with a contractor about the scheme having sorted out most of the planning issues now. We expect to start on site later in the year and hope to be re-opening either at the tail end of this year or, more likely early in 2019.

“It’s a complicated project due to the Grade II listing and we will be doing extensive works to restore as much of the original character of the building as possible.”