A HISTORIC Padiham pub looks set to be turned into housing after a developer won a planning appeal.

Burnley Council had turned down proposals to convert the Alma Inn to two homes because it ‘would be detrimental to the social and economic fabric of the area’.

But the Planning Inspectorate has overturned that decision after Adrian Atkinson, a director at Mill Street contruction firm Atkinson Morley, challenged the initial ruling.

The council’s development control committee rejected the plans in July last year after a campaign by customers, and Burnley Civic Trust, to keep open the pub - the only surviving ale-house in Padiham’s ‘Top of the Town Triangle’ area.

The Alma, at the corner of West Street and Alma Street, opened in 1897, but has had 12 different tenants in the past eight years. Coun Andy Tatchell, who backed a petition launched by landlord Kevin Kirtland opposing development, said the success of the appeal was ‘deeply disappointing for Padiham’.

He said: “I thought the inspector gave us a fair hearing but, I must admit, I found his conclusion extremely disappointing. It’s in the conservation area and it’s the last remaining ‘house pub’ in the borough. It’s part of the character of the area and you can’t replace that sort of atmosphere.”

Mark Briggs, a real ale expert who reviewed the pub for the Lancashire Telegr-aph last November, said: “It’s sad to see the demise of a small, friendly, traditional pub.”

The pub’s owners, Punch Taverns, put the 2,000 sq ft site up for sale in January 2011 for £115,000, but only attracted one potential buyer, who eventually opted for other premises.

A report by Matthew Birkinshaw, from the Planning Inspectorate, concluded: “The proposal would bring about benefits by providing three-bedroom accommodation in a sustainable location, which the council confirm there is a need for.“Although there would be some harm from the job losses associated with the pub, the evidence before me indicates that its sustainable long- term future is uncertain.”

A Punch Taverns spokesperson said: “We can conf-irm contracts have been exchanged on the Alma and the sale is expected to complete in early June. The pub will close on 4 June.”