THE latest contentious attempt to bulldoze a Dorset pub building and replace it with homes have been refused.

Northshore Companies Ltd proposal for eight properties on the site of the Churchill Arms in Sturminster Marshall attracted more than 40 objections from residents.

This planning application followed a failed bid to redevelop the area to deliver nine homes.

The scaled down scheme, which was revised twice since it was first submitted to Dorset Council, was rejected by a planning officer.

A report by officer James Brightman said: "The proposal would result in the loss of a non-designated heritage asset that is the former Churchill Arms public house.

"The applicant has failed to demonstrate that it is not financially viable to redevelop the application site whilst retaining the non-designated Heritage Asset and the significant weight that is apportioned to the loss of the non-designated heritage asset significantly and demonstrably outweighs the benefits of the redevelopment of previously-developed land to contribute to the council’s housing supply by the provision of eight new dwellings with associated social and economic benefits and the provision of soft landscaping and biodiversity enhancements."

Objectors to the scheme, including Poole Pirates team manager Neil Middleditch, have fought tirelessly to prevent the demolition of the pub.

Mr Middleditch, who is part of an action group in the village fighting to get the pub reopen for the first time in two years, said Sturminster Marshall did not need homes there but it did need a community pub.

Sturminster Marshall Parish Council was also against Northshore Companies Ltd's application for the High Street site.

The objection from the parish council said: "The application would result in the loss of a popular local facility.

"The Churchill Arms has been serving the village since 1860 (it was marked on the definitive map in 1887) and provides an important local meeting place for a variety of sports teams, as well as being a drinking pub for local people.

"The parish council has successfully applied for the Churchill Arms to be an asset of community value, although this decision is subject to an appeal by the owner.

"The loss of this facility would result in a substantial decline in the range and quality of facilities and services for local people."