POOLE Pirates team manager Neil Middleditch is calling for developers to give villagers a chance to reopen a pub with more than 100 years of history.

The Churchill Arms in Sturminster Marshall has been closed and boarded up for two years, with the site’s owners hoping to demolish the building and replace it with housing.

A planning application for nine homes on the land from Northshore Companies Ltd was refused by the council and an appeal was dismissed by the planning inspectorate last summer.

The same firm have now put forward a proposal for eight properties, which is currently being considered by Dorset Council’s planning department.

Speedway manager Mr Middleditch, who is part of an action group in the village fighting to get the pub reopen, said: “We have the support of a lot of people in the village but it is a case the owner wants to develop the site and we are trying to stop that.

“The village doesn’t need homes there but it does need a community pub. This is the last roll of the dice for us. We have tried and tried, so we will try to succeed.”

More than 40 residents have submitted objections to the latest plans from Northshore Companies Ltd.

“We are fighting alongside the parish council, who are fully supporting our actions,” said Mr Middleditch. “It has been said the pub isn’t a viable proposition but we have a couple who have more than 20 years experience in the pub trade and they are willing to take it on and believe they can make a success of it.

“The developers are trying to build on it but with the traffic along there near the school it is only a matter of time. The increase in traffic from a development would be dangerous.

“If the pub opened again, the school parents would be able to use the car park.”

A design and access statement, submitted in support of the eight-home plans, said: “The impact of the loss of the Churchill Arms, as a community facility has been fully considered and it is clear that there will not be a significant reduction in the facilities available to local residents. Furthermore, it has been evidence that it is not feasible or viable to retain the Churchill Arms as a public house – this is supported by the Inspector’s decision.”

It adds: “The proposal will deliver eight properties, a mixture of two and three-bedroom units of which there is a under supply when compared to the identified need in the council’s strategic housing market assessment.”