Campaigners are battling to save a Kettering village’s only pub.
The Three Cranes in Loddington Road, Great Cransley, has been vacant for almost a year.
Developers Pytchley Estates bought the site after it closed in March and have applied to convert an outbuilding to a two-bed house. The plan has been recommended for approval by Kettering Council planners tonight (Tuesday).
The developers say they will continue to market the pub if their plan for the outbuilding is successful. But villagers say it is vital to the pub’s viability and that giving planning permission could end hopes of it ever re-opening.
Mike Cross, chairman of the Save The Three Cranes campaign, said: “The pub needs that building to safeguard its viability, there’s no question about that.
“If the plan goes ahead it would have a devastating effect on the village.
“I think the village would lose its appetite to fight for it.”
Mr Cross said the outbuilding was used for freezer storage by the pub, with two rooms upstairs available as a bed and breakfast for additional income.
Since the pub’s closure it has been marketed but nobody has come forward to buy and run it.
Mr Cross believes the asking price was initially too high before Pytchley Estates came in and brought the whole site for “a snip”.
After the sale the village held a public meeting with 75 per cent of households attending.
They then officially got the pub listed as an asset of community value on January 10 this year. Great Cransley Parish Council has objected to the outbuilding plan.
Pytchley Estates dispute the importance of the outbuilding to the pub’s functions.
In a planning document, they said: “The former publicans state that the building did not contribute to the business nor serve in any ancillary use. “There is some equipment in the garage belonging to the pub such as a fridge and dishwasher on inspection but these items can be suitably accommodated back in the main pub building in the store area.”
They said the struggle village pubs faced was ‘unfortunate’ but that by removing the outbuilding from a lease rental concessions could attract potential operators.
Without a pub in the village residents are forced to drive to The Hare in nearby Loddington to go for a drink.
Mr Cross said the lack of a pub in Great Cransley has ripped the heart out of the community.
He said: “The only time people get to see each other is in the pub.
“It was very viable, particularly on Fridays and weekends.
“It was where everybody in the village went as a community but since it shut people don’t get to see each other as often.”
Kettering Council planners say it is their belief that the loss of the outbuilding would not affect the viability of the pub.
A decision will be made by the council’s planning committee at 6.30pm in the council chamber.