FORMER regulars at the only pub in Milton-under-Wychwood are celebrating after plans to turn it into a house were turned down on appeal.

The Planning Inspectorate rejected an application to convert the Quart Pot into a house and build another home in its grounds, despite claims it was no longer viable as a pub.

West Oxfordshire District Council had previously rejected the proposal.

Planning inspector Megan Thomas said attempts last year to sell the site freehold for £415,000 and the pub freehold for £295,000 were “significantly too high”.

She suggested the High Street pub could be run as a going concern, noting that nearby Shipton-under-Wychwood had three pubs.

The inspector said: “The argument for non-viability of the Quart Pot has not been convincingly made and I take the view that its disappearance would be an unnecessary loss of a valued facility.”

She rejected arguments that residents could instead use Milton Sports and Social Club, as it has an entrance fee and did not appear to serve regular meals.

The pub’s owner, Acres Developments ,claimed: “There is a poor market for licensed premises of the nature of the Quart Pot.”

Cheap supermarket alcohol and the smoking ban had hit trade and the annual rent was cut from £19,000 in 1997 to £10,400 in 2010, the firm said.

The pub stood to make just £1,500 net operating profit a year, it estimated.

But Miss Thomas said “scant” evidence had been provided about the four tenants from 2008 to 2010, which “does not necessarily mean the underlying profitability of a business in these premises is lacking”.

The village’s district councillor, Jeff Haine, a former regular at the pub, said: “It was well used when certain landlords had it and not when other landlords had it. It’s the landlords who make the place.

“We’re absolutely delighted. We want our pub back.”

The inspector said outside interest in the premises had been “reasonably healthy” and Mr Haine said he hoped the pub would now be sold.

No-one at Acres Developments was available for comment.

Wychwoods county councillor Rodney Rose said: “It’s fantastic. Any parish that hasn’t got a shop, pub and garage is dimished.”

Graham Collett, chairman of Milton-under-Wychwood Parish Council, said: “I would imagine if it was reopened there would certainly be patronage for it.”