CAMPAIGNERS are calling on Herefordshire Council to reject plans to turn an historic county pub into houses.

Thomas Hayes has submitted plans to convert The Cliffe Arms in Mathon, near Malvern, into two homes and build a detached property within the garden.

The 17th Century, Grade II-listed village pub, originally known as the Trundle Inn, has been closed since 2004, except for a short spell in 2010 when it operated as a tea room.

Campaign for Real Ale members say it was always very popular with the village and visitors, and had a county-wide reputation for its food.

Mark Haslam, speaking on behalf of the Herefordshire branch of CAMRA said: “We will resist this proposal vigorously.

“The Cliffe Arms will be familiar to many people who used to go there to eat, drink and enjoy various functions and events.

“There are sound reasons to believe it can be successful once more under new ownership.

“It is close to Malvern, and it is an historic Inn of great distinction in a fine village setting.

“It belongs in the premier league of Herefordshire’s pubs. It is simply inconceivable that there wouldn’t be anyone out there interesting in taking the pub on as a going concern.

“However, no-one has been afforded that opportunity since it closed.

“It is of grave concern that the pub-owners have thus far made no effort to sell or to lease the Cliffe to another pub operator.

“It has just been allowed to sit empty.

“It was bought by them as a pub, so it is now only reasonable that it should first be offered for sale as a pub before considering these draconian proposals.”

But architects working on the scheme say the proposals for houses will be better for neighbours rather than a public house.

“The appearance of the proposed build has been designed to integrate with the listed buildings without visual conflict,” the architect said in the design and access statement.

“The rural characteristics will blend well with the current vernacular to ensure the existing local character is not harmed by this proposal.”

Mathon Parish Council is organising a special planning meeting to discuss the proposal, at which the public will be encouraged to contribute.

This will be held at Mathon Parish Hall at 7.30pm on August 28.

Residents have until September 13 to comment on the proposals on Herefordshire Council’s planning website quoting application reference number 192023.