A proposal to convert an “eyesore” Herefordshire country pub into a four-bedroom home has finally been approved, seven years after the first attempt.

The Wheatsheaf Inn, at a prominent spot on the main A44 Leominster to Worcester road near the village of Whitbourne, has been the subject of repeated planning bids by Worcester-based developer Peter Styles.

His latest proposal drew no objections from the public, and it was also backed by Whitbourne Parish Council, which a year ago agreed to send a public petition to Herefordshire Council expressing concern over the building’s deteriorating condition.

In the event, county planning officer Emily Brookes’ decision on whether to grant permission came down to interpretation of the words “or” and “and” within a clause in county planning policy on conversion of community facilities.

As an alternative pub was available in the village, namely the Live & Let Live 600 metres away, Miss Brookes concluded it was not necessary for the applicant to demonstrate the pub was “no longer required, viable or is no longer fit for purpose”, merely that it “has been vacant and marketed for community use without success”.

Proof of this came in the form of a commissioned marketing report with the application, which said that a “thorough” 18-month marketing campaign had shown there was “no demand for the use of the property as a public house, restaurant or for any other trading business, as all interest was from residential developers”.

“Unless the subject site is considered as a residential opportunity, it will remain undeveloped for a considerable period of time,” the report concluded.

Miss Brookes accepted this and also ruled that, though the pub lies outside the village boundary, the case for re-using an existing building overrode this, while an adjacent bus stop meant the site “is somewhat sustainable”.

No concerns were raised over road safety or ecology, though conditions of the permission require drainage and refuse arrangements to be first confirmed with the council.