A PUB has told residents who have made a petition to keep it open that it is 'too late'. 

The Rose and Thistle Pub in Fordingbridge has responded to a petition to stop the pub being turned into housing saying it wished residents had tried sooner as it will be forced to close due to poor business.

Landlord and pub owner, Chris, made clear he is not a 'greedy developer' but a change in his personal life and a struggle to sell the property have resulted in him finding a different use for the building.

He said: "If the village wants to support us, signing a petition is great but actually what we need is for them to come in and use the pub.

"It's been really difficult, it's a beautiful chocolate box 16th century, thatched building and I honestly thought we'd put it on the market and it would go within the week. 

"We'd obviously love for someone to take over the pub and preserve it for future generations but we can't just accept a silly offer. We're not looking to walk away with a profit, we just want to cover our costs and walk away and say 'that was a fantastic ten years running that place.'

After a whirlwind few weeks, Chris has said since the petition has started he has received a torrent of abuse. 

Surprised by the reaction, he has asked residents to recognise the difficulty of the situation and said in an ideal world he would not be making the decision. 

He said: "We've had a really nasty couple of weeks with some quite awful comments. We're not greedy developers, we're a struggling family of four and the pub has not been making money in the last couple of years. 

"Change of use was always an absolute last resort but we can't sit there losing thousands of pounds every month to keep a pub open that the majority of people don't visit."

On sale for £500,000, the petition aims to make the pub an asset of community value which would protect it against change-of-use.