VILLAGERS have backed plans to give a previously disused Hampshire pub a new lease of life.

The Fox and Hounds in Crawley near Winchester has been closed for more than a year, but is now set to open after it was sold for around £650,000 to new owner Lenny Carr-Roberts.

Mr Carr-Roberts, who is friends with famous chef Marco Pierre White, is well-known for the way he resurrected The Bugle Inn in Twyford and villagers are hoping he can do a similar job with The Fox and Hounds.

The planning application submitted to Winchester City Council says the pub will have a 90 square meter restaurant space at the back of the pub.

To do this an existing outbuilding will have to be demolished.

The plans also include building new toilet facilities in a new building in the west garden and removing the existing ones.

More than 25 villagers have written to the council to support the plans. including Mrs Victoria Oliver-Bellasis, who said: “With so many pubs closing it is incredibly important in my view to keep this intrinsically British tradition alive.

“A well run pub brings so many benefits to any village, for instance, providing employment and a focal point for sports teams, local groups and meetings, in short the pub will bring the community together.”

Councillor for South Wonston and Micheldever - which includes Crawley Cllr Stephen Godfrey backed the scheme.

He said: “I think it is very good news that people want to put money back into a community like Crawley.”

Mr Carr-Roberts has spoken about his excitement at reopening the pub and said: “I am very pleased and excited about the purchase of the Fox and Hounds.

“Far too many village pubs have closed in the last 12 years, due to poor investment and high brewery rents.

“Crawley is a beautiful village and deserves a successful independent village pub.”

Winchester City Council will decide the plans in the coming weeks and the earmarked date for the Fox and Hounds to reopen is next spring.