A CAMPAIGN has been launched to prevent an historic former Weymouth community pub being demolished and turned into flats.

The 120-year-old Ferrybridge Inn, on Portland Road, Wyke Regis, is due to be knocked down and turned into a complex of 29 flats and a new pub or restaurant after planning permission was granted in 2018.

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Originally built in the 1890s its initial role was to collect tolls from people crossing to Portland, later becoming a pub. But despite its rich history the building is not listed and can be knocked down.

Doubt had been cast over whether the development will still go ahead as planning permission - given to a London firm, Boyer, acting on behalf of Dorset landowner Ilchester Estates - was due to expire earlier this month. However, it has emerged that a change in the law could give developers extra time.

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Meanwhile, in a last ditch attempt to save the iconic building, residents have started a petition calling for Dorset Council to intervene and force the new owners to keep it as a community asset.

Dave Taylor, who started the petition 'Act Now - Save the Ferrybridge Inn' on change.org, said: "The Inn is the only remaining connection to the original ferry and bridge. Everyone still calls it 'Ferrybridge' even though it has been replaced.

"It's quite sad that history just gets lost, and frustrating for the community. So many people want something to be done with (the original building) rather than it being knocked down and replaced with something modern.

"Personally I think it should be listed and would like to see the owners forced to keep the building as it is, and restored back to its proper use.

"The developer's initial reasoning for demolishing it was that the building was old and unfit for purpose but there are loads of pubs in old buildings.

"It's in a prime spot on the South West Coast Path, near a holiday park and at the end of the Rodwell Trail. It has so much potential if someone invested money into it and landscaped the land at the back overlooking the Fleet.

"To be honest I wouldn't mind what they did with it if they were going to retain the original building. It's on a stretch of land that can be seen from miles around."

Nearby resident Ann Douglas said: "It's just an eyesore - I just hope they don't now put in a planning application for something that's even more intrusive. I rather suspect they are hanging on so they can get more for when they sell the site.

"They had planning permission five years ago and they've done nothing - it's been empty and gone into disrepair with people vandalising it - it is sitting there looking sadder and sadder by the day."

Wyke resident Colin Hobbs said: "It is part of Wyke Regis' history and there are a great many who feel this building should remain. We would be sorry to see it go and be replaced by a monstrosity of a building."

Developer Boyer London has been contacted for comment.