A VILLAGE pub is set to close and re-open as a convenience store in a move that will create up to 25 jobs.

Blackfield will lose its only watering hole if planning chiefs call time on the Hampshire Yeoman and approve plans to convert the 60-year-old building into a Sainsbury’s Local.

Parish councillors are backing the scheme, which has sparked mixed views in the area.

One of the letters received by New Forest District Council says: “Anything would be better than the eyesore that is the Hampshire Yeoman.

“I’ve lived near the pub since 1996 and it has gradually got worse. The excessive noise from discos going on until past midnight, and the drunken shouting and abusive language at chucking out time, is terrible.

“People say a pub is the heart of a village. If that is the case, Blackfield needs a transplant.”

But the council has also received a letter from a villager who is strongly against plans to turn the building into a convenience store.

The letter says: “The Hampshire Yeoman plays an important role in village life. If a supermarket replaced the pub it would be the end of many people’s social life.”

Landlord Richard Clark, 50, added: “If the Hampshire Yeoman closes I’ll be homeless as well as unemployed.

“I’ve lived in Blackfield all my life and don’t want to see it go – it holds too many memories. It’s the busiest pub in the area and the only one in the village itself. We don’t have any more trouble than any other pub.”

The Hampshire Yeoman is owned by Punch Taverns.

A spokesman said: “It’s always our preference that our pubs continue to trade as pubs.

However, we review our estate regularly and explore other options around the future of our less sustainable sites.

“Following such a review a decision has been made to put the Hampshire Yeoman on the market and we’re currently speaking to interested parties.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said the proposed new shop would open next spring if plans to extend the building were approved.

She added: “We believe the new shop will provide a fresh and convenient alternative for local residents looking to top up their food shopping in the area.”