A PROPOSAL to turn a well known Newhaven pub into flats was approved unanimously by a Lewes District Council planning committee.
The Harbourside Inn has suffered declining fortunes, leading owner Flora Papnicolaou to decide to convert the pub in Fort Road into homes instead.
She told the planning committee at County Hall in Lewes that she could not afford to keep the business open for another winter.
Ms Papanicolaou said: “I have run the Harbourside Inn for eight and a half years.
“We have tried everything to try and turn the pub around.
“It’s quite well know that the pub trade is one that is suffering considerably under the recession.
“That building is 120 years old and the maintenance is unbelievable.
“I couldn’t sell it as a going concern. I will have to close the pub.
“I can’t run another winter as a business so that property will end up being empty.”
She pointed out this would leave the building open for squatters to move in.
Ms Papanicolaou said she had experienced problems with the neighbours complaining about noise, so she had to cut back on some of the noisier events at the pub, such as band nights, which in turn reduced trade,
The smoking ban did not help pubs either, she said.
However the planning committee was supportive of her scheme and felt the proposed homes fitted in with the area.
They were also pleased that the historic building, built in 1891 as the Sheffield Hotel, would remain intact.
Cllr Tom Jones (Con, Ditchling) said: “We have seen a number of pubs through the district we have closed.
“There does come a point where we can’t expect owners of businesses to continue running then if it is not financially viable to do so.”
He continued: “What I am pleased about is the facade is going to remain the same and that this architecturally landmark will remain.”
Cllr Carla Butler (L.Dem, Newhaven) who was standing in for cllr Ian Eiloart, added: “This is a very sad moment for Newhaven.
“I’m pleased that the architecture is going to look similar and I am pleased about the affordable housing.
“It’s just that once it’s gone, it’s gone and it can never come back. I’m gutted.
“But I understand the owner’s reasons behind this and I sympathise with the owner who has tried for many years.”
Ms Papanicolaou has asked the district council for planning permission to convert the pub in Fort Road into 18 residential units.
The main building will be converted into 11 one bedroom flats, while the garden area to the south west will have two semi detached houses fronting Gibbon Road.
And to the west of the site, a terrace of five two bedroom houses will be built, as well as a central parking courtyard for 21 cars.
Newhaven Town Council objected to the scheme because of the loss of the pub and function room.
It also said the plans were out of keeping with the area, were concerned about overdevelopment, overlooking and overshadowing and insufficient parking which would lead to pressure on parking in Gibbon Road.
Just three letters of objection were received from local residents.
But planning advisers told the district council the layout and design made best use of the brownfield land while respecting the character of the area and neighbouring amenities.
The Harbourside Inn has ten rooms for bed and breakfast accommodation, with only three of these offering en suite accommodation.