Updated: A COMMUNITY pub has won a last-minute reprieve against plans to turn it into housing.

Councillors yesterday voted 4-3 against a bid to convert the Volunteer Arms in Watson Street, Holgate, York, into two, three-bedroom houses.

Planning officer Fiona Mackay had recommended the proposal be accepted, but the committee said the loss of a pub would remove a valuable community facility.

The neighbouring pub, The Locomotive, is already set to be demolished to make way for houses.

The Rev John Lee, from the nearby St Paul’s Church, and Richard Knowles, head teacher at St Paul’s CE Primary School, both urged the committee to consider alternatives to extra housing, including community space which could be used by the church as support groups, or extra classrooms for the school’s 175 children.

Mr Lee said: “Holgate needs community space more than it needs new flats and we have a plan to meet that need.

“The council has already given permission for the Locomotive to become housing. We need you to take our local needs seriously.”

Mr Knowles said: “Within 500 metres of this building there is a range of housing but very little in the way of community groups. We feel that developing the site with St Paul’s Church would greatly enhance the community and education in the locality.”

Paul Crossman, landlord of The Swan pub in Bishopgate Street, said the Volunteer Arms was still viable as a pub.

He said: “We could take it on and believe we could make it into a success based on our experience with The Swan.

“Now The Locomotive has been shut down, there’s nothing quite like the Volunteer Arms in the area. We feel we could run it as a free house, supporting local brewers and the local economy.”

Mr Crossman said he had placed an offer of £165,000 – the asking price – with Punch Taverns in November, but had been told the company would not consider selling the property for less than £200,000.