A LONG-RUNNING battle to save a pub which has been a fixture of a South Derbyshire village since the 18th century appears to have been lost with plans to turn it into housing set to be given the green light.
The curtain is set to fall on the Melbourne Arms after its owner lodged an application to convert it into a house, with the building also set to be joined by four other properties.
It was a plan which had been anticipated by campaigners in the village.
Only last year an attempt was made to extend a conservation area in Melbourne to ring-fence the pub, in Ashby Road, which dates back to 1791, from the threat of development.
The village’s civic society said its loss would ‘detract from one of Melbourne’s many amenities and attractions’, but Melbourne councillor Linda Chilton said that although she will be sad to see the famous name disappear, the pub was no longer viable and that history alone should not be a reason to refuse the plan.
Mrs Chilton said: “I believe it is imperative that we retain our heritage and would be very sad to see the Melbourne Arms go, but this is a business and businesses have to be sustainable.
“There have been a number of public houses in recent years that have had to close down, generally because of lack of trade. Being totally realistic, retaining this building as a house should be accepted as being a better alternative than ending up an empty shell.
“Changes are upon us – the opposite is stagnation – and as long as they befit the area we may be better to accept them as the alternative may be unpalatable.”
She added that it would not be the case that Melbourne would lose its only pub, as has been the case in Findern.
But Ian Turner, chairman of the civic society’s planning sub-committee, believes there is every chance the building could have remained as a pub.
He said: “The Melbourne Arms is a Georgian purpose-built public house and should be retained. If the current dual use as public house and Indian restaurant ceases we are sure the buildings and site could readily and successfully be converted to a modern gastropub to the benefit of local residents and visitors.”
South Derbyshire District Council’s Planning Committee is expected to make a final decision on the plan next Tuesday.