A WILTS and Berks Canal Trust campaign to save Dauntsey Lock’s last pub by buying it from owner Wadworth was backed by councillors at a planning meeting on Thursday.

Councillors turned down an application by Wadworth to change the Peterborough Arms into a house after hearing of the trust’s plans to run it as a pub and visitor centre.

The trust has six months to raise £330,000 – the market value of the pub – after registering it as an asset of community value under the Localism Act.

But Wadworth is still under no legal obligation to sell the pub even if it raises the money on time.

Former landlords Linda and Trevor Money live next door to The Peterborough Arms, but were unable to save it from closure in April.

Lloyd Stevens, tenanted trade director at Wadworth, said: “We came to a decision five years ago. Changes were experienced by many pubs and the Peterborough Arms itself had no viable future.

“We were approached by Mr and Mrs Money, who were aware of the situation but felt they could make use of their local connections. For the last months of the tenancy no rent was charged.”

Councillors were reluctant to lose a community facility, so agreed to give the canal trust a chance to prove itself.

Coun Toby Sturgis said: “I’m fully in agreement with the viability report, but that is not the only criteria. I believe the provision of community benefit kicks in.

“I think it’s very disappointing that the owner and the canal trust haven’t been able to work together before, because I believe this has great potential.”

The news delighted the trust’s vice-chairman and fundraising director Kath Hatton, as there are only two pubs running along the Wilts and Berks Canal line – The Peterborough Arms and The Bell at Lacock.

She said: “If it ceases to be a pub it will be a great loss to the community and potential tourism. Canal-side pubs are hugely popular. We accept the canal and towpath are not open to the public, but we’re in discussions with the local owner.”