A developer who was denied planning permission to convert an historic pub into flats has outraged the local community – by having it bulldozed.
Brian Williams bought the The Greyhound Inn – built in the 1840s – and applied to the local authority to convert it into several apartments.
But the proposals were thrown out on the grounds of the building’s ”great history” and value to the community as the only pub in the area.
Despite his proposals being turned down, Williams arrived with bulldozers at the weekend – and knocked it down.
Officials say he was within his rights to demolish the building because it did not fall within one the town’s conservation areas.
It is thought he will now be able to gain permission for his plans – because there is no pub left.
The pub, in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, is now a pile of rubble and residents have accused the developer of ”sticking two fingers up” to the community.
Councillor John Morris, cabinet member for built environment at Cheltenham Borough Council, described the demolition as ”galling”.
He said: ”The council has rejected plans to convert the pub, let alone build new flats, since the outset because we thought it was of great value to the community.
”At no stage has this man gained permission to build new flats. By demolishing the existing pub he is exploiting a loophole in the system and effectively sticking two fingers up to the community in the process.
”The most galling thing about this is that there is very little we can do to stop him.
”When he submits a planning application to develop the site in the future, our hands will be tied because there will be nothing left but empty brownfield land.
”It’s a hugely disappointing outcome. We have listened to residents’ views and done our best to represent them throughout.
”We must push for local authorities to be given more power to manage their own planning issues to prevent this kind of thing from happening.”
The pub closed at the end of April after residents lost a long-running battle to save it.
Former manager Dave Kelly said: ”I find it disgusting that this guy can do whatever he likes with no consideration for the good of the area.
”The pub was popular, well-supported by the community and it turned over a good profit. It has already left a big gap.
”We put our faith in the council to save it and, although they rejected the plans, ultimately they have failed to stick up for our cause.”
Andy Ford, 49, a regular at the former pub, said suspicions were raised that bulldozers were about to move onto the site last week when 10ft hoardings were put up around its perimeter.
He added: ”It’s gut-wrenching to drive past and see what he’s done to the place. He probably never had any intention to refurbish the existing buildings at all. Once you’ve got permission for change of use you can do what you like.”
Mr Williams declined to comment yesterday.
A spokesman for the council said it was ”unclear” if Williams had a demolition licence to knock the pub down.