A POPULAR Wareham bar could be converted to a home after years of declining income – made worse by the pandemic.

The owners of Harry’s Bar, in South Street, have asked for planning permission to make internal changes to the building to create a new home and to convert a store to the rear of the building to a car port.

The move has led to an objection from the town council which says that other business uses ought to be tried before conversion is allowed – to protect the vitality of the town centre.

The application, which will be decided by Dorset Council, shows little external change to the front of the listed building to create a four-bed home but with alterations to a store, off Trinity Lane, to the rear to create a car port. A staircase inside is to be re-instated as part of the alterations, if approved.

Documents submitted with the application say the business has been on the market, without success, for nine months and is no longer viable.

Prior to the pandemic the couple who ran the business for more than 10 years achieved high ratings on Trip Advisor but over the past five or six years had suffered a decline in trade, partially due to increased competition in the area.

Said a statement to the council in support of the application from Wessex Survey and Design: “The site is no longer viable in its present use as evidenced by the steadily declining profit with the limited income available to the owners being less than the national living wage. An active marketing strategy over the last 12 months has generated little interest with no offers being made. The cafe / bar in its current use is not a suitable investment due to a number of factors such as secondary location and shift in consumer preferences.”