A village could face the permanent loss of what some describe as its “last pub”.
The owner of The Harrow in The Street, Ulcombe, near Maidstone, has submitted plans to convert it into three two-bedroom homes.
It had been a pub since at least 1848 but in recent years has been in and out of business and is currently closed.
A report accompanying The Harrow in Ulcombe Ltd’s plans, being considered by Maidstone Borough Council planners, said: “Whilst the exact age of the building is unknown, it is thought to be around 300 years old, although its initial use was not as a public house.”
The planning documents explain that there was an attempt to auction the pub off with Savills in 2016 but there were no bids.
Residents then tried to buy it as a community asset but only £40,000 was raised and the plans faltered.
Several villagers later formed a company and attempted to have the venue run as a community pub.
The report added: “But after three public meetings and many hours of consultations, it became clear to the owners that the village members were not going to be able to facilitate the community venture.”
After “lack of custom and complaints of antisocial behaviour” the Harrow folded.
It was taken over again as a gastropub – Smoke & Cured – which has also since closed.
The current owner insists “the community does not wish to support any form of pub in the village” and the building will go to better use through “the provision of much-needed smaller housing that is affordable”.
Despite the failed attempts to make it profitable, some people still want to see it kept as a pub.
Ellen Richter and Leon Holmes, responding on the council’s planning portal, wrote: “The extensive redevelopment into three small dwellings represents the permanent loss of the single remaining public house in the village.
“The only other buildings representing opportunity for social engagement are the school, the church and the village hall.
“To have no central social space to congregate means that there is limited capacity for social cohesion.”
There is a second pub in the parish of Ulcombe at Fairbourne Heath – the Pepper Box Inn, in Windmill Hill – but it is on the outskirts of the village.
Anna Hawkes suggested the owner should instead “sell it to a chain of pubs who have made successful businesses in village areas”.
She added: “I believe this village has enough houses and not enough amenities, this should remain a pub and give this village a bit of life.”
However, Richard Pillsborough, of the Ulcombe village hall committee, thinks that “its time has come”.
“I don’t think that anyone realistically thinks it can be revived,” he said.
Mr Pillsborough said many Ulcombe locals were happy to go to the Pepper Box Inn or the King’s Head in Grafty Green.
“My own view is that two attempts to revive it have been worthy attempts, people have tried hard, but I think we have to accept that the business wasn’t there and the property wasn’t of a nature that enabled sufficient business to be done,” he continued.
“Sadly, as much as we would like a local pub, it’s gone the way of many others and I think we just have to accept it.”
It is not yet known when MBC planning officers will decide on the application but an internal decision deadline of November 30 has been set.