RESIDENTS are stepping up their campaign to stop new homes being built in a village pub garden.

A planning application has been made to build two detached homes in the garden of The Plough Inn in Appleton and to refurbish the pub.

Now 115 residents have written letters objecting to the proposals made to Vale of White Horse District Council by pub owner Hawthorne Leisure and developer REL Group.

Parish councillor Mary Carey, who has been leading the objections, said villagers have formed a working group to oppose the plans.

She added: “The Appleton with Eaton Parish Council was shocked when, in November 2017, REL dropped this bombshell on us.

“They made some outrageous suggestions which included stating the garden was seldom used and claiming it was ‘surplus land’.

“The working group has tried on a few occasions to engage with the pub owners and the developers to see if a way forward could be negotiated, but they have been unreceptive to any such discussion.

“Sadly, there has been a total lack of a desire to engage with the community.”

Graham Rose, who has lived in the village for more than 50 years, said the pub garden had been a centre for village events over many decades.

He added: “It has been a much valued communal space for local cricket, tennis and Aunt Sally teams to meet and for families and locals to gather for a drink.

“The proposal includes converting the existing smoking area at the side of the pub into a much smaller garden close to the main road.

“The owner, Hawthorn Leisure, and the developer, REL, have resisted all approaches from the village, which also operates a thriving community shop, to enter a dialogue to secure the pub and garden for the future.”

The latest ‘reduced’ development plan follows the refusal of plans to build two detached houses in the pub garden and keep approximately 200sq m to the side of the pub as the garden.

That scheme was rejected in August, with the authority citing concerns that the loss of green space would jeopardise the viability of the pub.

In a statement, REL said it had been working with Hawthorn 'to secure the long term viability of the pub'.

The company said the Plough 'has been in gradual decline over the last two-three years and is in urgent need of investment'.

It went on: "The planning application will do exactly this. A new commercial kitchen is set to be built on the rear of the pub, new internal toilets are also set to be built replacing an outdated external block."

It said its plan would mean the 'redundant and burdensome rear garden' could be developed into two new 'much-needed homes' for the village.