A CAMPAIGN group set up to save a community pub was delighted on Tuesday when Devizes Town Council voted overwhelmingly to object to plans by Wadworth to knock down The Cavalier and build homes.

Richard Read from the newly set up Cavalier Conservation Group made an impassioned plea to councillors to back the fight to save the pub in Eastleigh Road from the bulldozer.

He said: "The Cavalier is not just a pub. It is a community hub, a place where family and friends meet regularly making it one of the busiest pubs in town."

Brewery Wadworth has applied to Wiltshire Council for outline permission to demolish the pub, that was built in 1961 and has a large function room used for weddings, parties and fundraising, and to replace it with up to seven homes.

A number of town councillors including Albert Wooldridge and Jane Burton spoke emotionally about the need to keep the pub to serve the local community and provide a place for numerous skittle, darts and pool teams.

Coun Burton said: "If The Cavalier is knocked down the heart will be ripped out of that community." Coun Wooldridge said: "If these facilities are lost it will be devastating for the town and its community. The Cavalier also provides unrivalled facilities that include pole dancing classes, bingo, knock-out tournaments, exhibitions, presentation evenings and much more.

"If this planning application is allowed to go through then the council is not looking after the best interests of the town and community." He said he would be asking councillor Peter Evans, who represents Devizes on Wiltshire Council, to call in the plan so it would have to go to an eastern area planning meeting rather than being decided by officers.

James and Tricia Blake, who have been tenants of The Cavalier for ten years, are in discussions with Wadworth about taking over The Bell on the Green, Devizes where refurbishment work costing £250,000 has just started.

Mr Blake said: "We have not yet made up our minds about what we want to do. We have worked hard to make this a real community pub and it is nice that so many people care about its future."

Andy Geddes, who chaired the town council meeting, warned that objections needed to be on planning grounds and not emotional ones. A list of five planning reasons for why the pub should not be demolished was drawn up.

A spokesman for Wadworth said: "Following a review of the Wadworth pub estate Wadworth is pleased to announce that it will be commencing two major pub investments in Devizes. The Bell on the Green will be refurbished throughout with a £250,000 investment, creating a more sports focused environment.

"As part of this review Wadworth is considering options for the Cavalier and has submitted a planning application for change of use. This will go through the standard planning application process where individuals will have the opportunity to make their opinions known formally. Wadworth is currently in discussions with the current business partners at the Cavalier about the new business opportunity at the Bell."

A document included in the planning application shows an illustrative layout of two pairs of semi-detached properties and a terraced row containing three dwellings homes.