A FORMER Blandford pub is expected to be converted for staff accommodation for the nearby Crown Hotel.

The local planning committee is being recommended to approve the conversion of the ground floor of the vacant grade 2 listed Three Choughs Inn, West Street. Upstairs flats are already in use by the Crown for staff accommodation.

Dorset Council officers are recommending agreeing the changes to create four en-suite bedrooms with a shared kitchen on the ground floor. They say the conversion will provide much-needed accommodation and protect the fabric of the building which closed as a pub in 2009.

Hall & Woodhouse say that after repeated advertising they finally found a tenant in 2016 to re-open the building as a pub, but they pulled out before fitting out works were completed. A national coffee chain had previously leased the building but never fitted it out and in 2018 exercised a break clause in the lease and walked away.

Blandford Town Council has objected to the change of use saying that it would result in the loss of a town centre business while the town Civic Society has offered no objection in principle.

A report to councillors, who meet in Sturminster Newton on September 17th to decide the application says: “The site is adjacent to The Crown Inn, a large and imposing, successful and recently renovated public house. On the opposite side of West Street is the Crown and Anchor pub, and a short distance away is the Greyhound pub. It does seem unlikely in the current climate of pub closures, that there would be demand for the premises to re-open as a pub in the foreseeable future… It is considered that the ‘loss’ of the A class use would not undermine the focus of on retailing in the area, and is not considered that the change of use would lead to a significant adverse impact on the vitality and viability of the town centre as a whole.”