NEW life is to be breathed into a long-closed down pub on Weymouth Esplanade.

A planning application for the change of use of the New Vic pub and restaurant at nos 41-43 The Esplanade has been approved by Dorset Council, for the conversion of the ground floor of the premises into a community business development hub, training and education centre, and offices.

The pub was once home to 'Jolly Ollie's' soft play, and there will continue to be a soft play area at the premises.

The centre is to be run by not-for-profit organisation the Weymouth Area Development Trust (WADT) - the organisation behind the Starfish Enterprise Hub, which will be based at the building to offer hotdesk space and business support to start-ups.

The site is under the Fairhaven Hotel, a grade 2 listed building which would continue trading.

No objections were made by neighbours - with one writing in support of the plans: "As a direct neighbour to the property I would like to show my support for this application," they said.

"The property has now been vacant for a long period and has served no purpose during this time. It is such a waste for the town and its community.

"The previous public house was often loud including karaoke nights and its patrons, when leaving the property late into the evening, caused a nuisance on this block of The Esplanade, which otherwise has no evening entertainment and is enjoyed by either residents or hotel guests.

"My preference would not to allow the new premises to operate the café on the kerbside nor serve alcohol, but expect these to be separate matters."

In order for the change of use to go ahead a separate planning application has been submitted to Dorset Council for changes to the inside of the listed building - which are said to be "minimal" according to agents acting on behalf of the applicant.

This request is still under consideration but would involve demolition of an internal glazed partition, erection of an internal partition wall and external new glazed screen and door.

Documents with the application say that similar changes have been agreed elsewhere on the Esplanade and in the town centre conservation area: “The proposed change of use retains the building and surrounding high-quality architecture as well as the area’s verdant character.

"Retaining the property will preserve and enhance the listed building while viably utilising the space. Therefore this would cause no material harm to the listed building or the conservation area…the change of use will maintain the listed building and create a busy training centre that will benefit other restaurants, cafes and shops in the vicinity.”