A DILAPIDATED former pub in Poole is set to be transformed into a new veterinary surgery more than four years after its sudden closure.

The Darby's Corner pub in Waterloo Road, which closed over night in April 2011 to the surprise of staff who turned up to work to find it boarded up, is finally set for a new lease of life.

Left empty and in an increasingly poor state of repair this local landmark has been vacant ever since, despite attempts by owners Hall and Woodhouse to find new tenants.

The premises has now been sold to Boscombe East-based Natterjacks Vet practice and a planning application for a change of use has been approved by Borough of Poole.

Natterjacks owner and vet Andy Matthew said: "There is a lot of work to do, perhaps more than we had anticipated at the outset, but we are very excited about restoring this landmark building to it's former glory and once again providing the local community with a valuable resource, albeit with an animal twist."

Mr Matthew said he was keen to "provide more for the local community than just a vet practice" and said and would be consulting with local people on what they might like to see there.

So far plans include a dog friendly cafe and turning the spacious grounds into a haven for nature with insect hotels, bat boxes, bird feeding stations and planting. A dog agility course and children's play area are additional options under consideration.

"We are hoping to offer advanced veterinary facilities to include things like a CT scanner and hydrotherapy to provide the area's pet owners and animal charities with some affordable specialist facilities not available elsewhere locally and which will also be of benefit to our existing practice in Boscombe East, which has now run out of space," he added.

The exterior of the building will be restored but not altered and inside the bar and seating area will make way consulting rooms, operating theatres, a dispensary, x-ray area and kennels and cages for recovering pets.

Mr Matthew said the new practice would not be ready until February 2016 at the earliest. He added: "As a devout CAMRA supporter who is fairly vehemently opposed to the closure of local pubs I am determined to retain more than a nod to its past and ensure that it retains that warm, cosy and inviting feel of a pub rather than anything too sterile or medical - whether I can get away with having a beer pump on the reception desk remains to be seen!"