DIDCOT residents have hit out at new plans to knock down an historic pub and buil homes on the site.

Wantage construction firm BPJ has submitted a second planning application to demolish The Sprat, on Hagbourne Road, and replace it with six houses.

South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) refused its first plan for seven homes in February for being out of character with the area.

The company bought the 1874 pub for £358,642 in 2010 and put it on the market for £425,000 in 2011.

Tesco offered £350,000 but no deal was done, the planning application shows.

Didcot Town Council member and former mayor Peter Reade said he would prefer to see the pub, which is still open, upgraded but feared it would not be possible.

Mr Reade, who lives next door to the pub in East Street, said: “If it was updated as a community pub it would be nice. Didcot hasn’t got a huge range of pubs. We are surrounded by fancy pubs in the village.”

Cavdendish Park resident Frederick Johns, 84, told the council: “I have been using The Sprat for upwards of five years.

“As I am 84 years old it is very important as my only social outlet.

“The next public house is some three quarters of a mile away, posing a problem.

“I understand that The Sprat, like East Street, is in a Conservation Area and therefore protected.

“The traffic density in Hagbourne Road is considerable. Six more high-density dwellings would aggravate the situation.

“The Sprat is a valuable social amenity and has a considerable customer base, more so when holding pool and darts competitions.

“It is essentially very friendly and welcoming.”

Another Hagbourne Road resident wrote: “Hagbourne Road is host to a high volume of traffic and to build six extra homes here, each with two car spaces, will hugely exacerbate the problem.”

But BPJ director Ian Sullivan said: “The pub is now extremely run down and requires considerable investment in order to bring it up to modern standards.

“It does not generate a sufficient return in terms of rental income to warrant such investment.

“The pub also has a very poor reputation locally, with many neighbours expressing a wish to see the pub closed and the site redeveloped for alternative uses.”

The public can comment on the plans until Wednesday, September 10. The council planning committee is due to make a decision on the plan by Thursday, October 2.

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