MEMBERS of a community group have been urged to press on with their plans to take over a run-down local pub if they want to save it from permanent closure.

The Railway Inn at Fourstones closed in 2015 and was put on the market.

But when it wasn’t sold owner, Geoffrey Smart, submitted a change of use planning application to turn the pub into a six-bedroom house.

The application was initially refused by planning officers, but it came before councillors at Tuesday’s Tynedale Local Area Council again after the owner added more detail to the proposals.

Speaking in objection to the application, Ken Page of community group Fourstones Community Ventures Ltd, argued against the owner’s claims that the pub was not viable.

Meanwhile Warden Parish Council chairman, Steve Heminsley, said there were hopes the group could take it on as a community venture, and the parish council had been involved in those talks.

“The permanent closure of our pub would represent a hammer blow to the viability of our village,” he said.

Councillors agreed unanimously to refuse the application, in line with the recommendations from planning officers, who said closing it would result in the loss of a valued community facility.

However, some councillors raised concerns that if the group’s plan did not come to fruition, the planning application could be re-submitted.

Coun. John Riddle said: “I certainly will support the refusal of this application but, like the chairman, I think if this keeps coming back there will come a point where unless we have something very robust we will have to approve it.”