A THRIVING community pub is set to be knocked down and replaced with 26 retirement flats.

Councillors were jeered as they “reluctantly” voted to approve plans to demolish the Harrier Inn, in Hamble last night.

They said they had little choice but to accept McCarthy and Stone Retirement Lifestyle's bid, as even if they had turned it down, the site would be turned into a convenience store without needing planning permission.

At least two national supermarket firms were interested in buying the site and turning it into a convenience store, the meeting heard.

As reported by the Daily Echo, pub owner Enterprise Inns wanted to sell the site as it would more profitable to sell it for use as retirement flats or a store than allow it to remain a pub.

Eastleigh Borough Council's Bursledon, Hamble and Hound Local Area Committee heard the pub in Hamble Lane was “extremely busy” and had seen a big increase in trade in the past 18 months.

A petition against the application had 650 signatures, while 25 objections were made to the planning application.

At last night's meeting at Hamble Primary School, head chef Tracey Vann described it as the “heart and soul of the community”.

Eleven-year-old Amber-Rose Williams implored the committee to reject the proposals, saying they would “destroy a much-loved community pub”.

Her dad, Mark Williams, died from a brain tumour aged just 40 last year, and the pub held an event in memory of him and to fund research into tumours earlier this year.

Councillors on the committee described it as one of the toughest decisions they had ever had to make, but eventually voted to approve the application by three votes to one.

Afterwards Ms Vann said the decision was “heartbreaking”, while resident Steph Bowyer said losing the pub would be a “huge miss for the community”.

No details have been released yet on when the pub will close and work will start.