Villagers fighting plans to bulldoze a historic pub are appealing to the owners to let a local woman buy and restore it so it can be reopened for community use.

More than 600 people have so far backed a campaign being run by local resident and lawyer Jo Beech to save the Swan Hotel at Bucklow Hill after a planning application was submitted by PH Property Holdings to Cheshire East Council to demolish it to make way for 19 houses.

Mrs Beech, who has also set up the Save our Swan petition on change. org,  is now trying to speak to the owner about buying the property so she can renovate it as a pub and community hub for local people.

“We want to renovate it and bring it back to life and create an element of charitable offering within it where we could hold events for the local community and people who are particularly lonely,” she said.

“We've got quite an old demographic in this area, quite a lot of elderly people, and we've found that through the pandemic particularly, residents have gotten to know each other a lot more, and were really appreciating the social aspect of the community to really come together.”

Mrs Beech said she did try to buy the pub before she found out about the planning application but was told it had already gone.

Knutsford Guardian: The Swan Hotel at Bucklow Hill (Barnes Walker Ltd)The Swan Hotel at Bucklow Hill (Barnes Walker Ltd)

She assumed someone else was going to renovate it and run it as a pub and was pleased there would be a place again for the local community to meet up.

“Then I saw on Facebook the Knutsford Guardian article about the planning application [for housing] and I just was really stunned,” she said. “It's a really, really old pub, it's a really massive landmark.”

She contacted villagers to see if they were happy with the planning application.

“The response was absolutely negative, not about the houses but about the loss of the pub,” she said.

“People aren't bothered about there being houses, but it's the loss of the community space because there just isn't anything. We lost the corner shop, the Nags Head pub's gone. Slowly but surely, everything in these three parishes [Mere, Rostherne and Millington] - and this one is right in the middle - everything's been taken away.”

She added: “As it became clear what the community felt about it and how important it was to so many people, I felt duty bound to take up the cause.”

Mrs Beech, who stresses it was ‘never on my bucket list to run a pub’, is adamant the funding is available for what she estimates will be a £10m scheme to restore the pub.

She said: “We've commissioned heritage experts, they've indicated that it ought to be a locally listed building because of its heritage and some very old, I think they said, 16th or 17th century architecture within the building.”

She said CAMRA is supporting the campaign and is ‘absolutely devastated’ by what is being proposed.

The pub, which was operated by Brewers Fayre and included a 70-bedroom Premier Inn Hotel and staff accommodation, closed in February 2020 and the site is now vacant.

The planning application seeks permission to demolish all the buildings on the site and build 19 homes.

The developer says in a design and access statement: "The proposed scheme seeks to emulate a ‘cluster’ of buildings ranged around a central ‘farm’ courtyard, with a run of workers cottages to Chester Road to create a development pattern which sits comfortably within the surrounding area and looks to have been a part of it through time.

"It will respond positively to the vernacular and character of the historic core of Bucklow Hill.”

The planning application, number 21/2975M, can be viewed on the planning portal on the Cheshire East website.