ONE of Worcester’s most ornate pubs is being saved – after an agreement was secured to turn part of it into four flats.

The Bush Inn, in St John’s, which features on the Campaign For Real Ale’s (CAMRA) list of 270 most historic watering holes nationwide, is due to open again in the new year.

The site, which dates back to 1879, is being carved up so it has an apartment on the ground floor, two on the first floor and a final flat on the top deck.

Businessman Andrew Boughton says it will allow him to invest in the pub and open it again, keeping the bar area intact, which has been acclaimed for its beauty.

Worcester City Council’s planning committee voted it through despite the Mayor, Councillor Pat Agar, voting against, saying too much of the pub was being lost.

Mr Boughton successfully argued that the Bush Inn, which has had three different owners since 2009, all of whom failed to make a go of it, was not viable without the flats. The committee welcomed the move, saying it was unusual for investors to look at dual uses of traditional hostelries.

Alan Coleman, from the planning department, said: “It’s a well-known building which has been part of St John’s for many years.“This is a scheme which seeks to retain the pub, it’s not like other applications where we tend to see business people go for complete conversion.”

Mr Boughton said: “If you look at the whole pub situation thousands are being sold off, Marston’s is currently getting rid of 400 traditional ones. “We are trying to use the planning system to turn this into a viable business, and get a traditional premises up and running again.”

He said the pub, which has been sold by Enterprise Inns recently, was “clearly not viable”.

Coun Agar said she was concerned about no food being part of the new launch, and that she would have preferred the entire ground floor staying for pub use.

Mr Boughton said: “We believe there is demand for a small, niche pub – and in St John’s there are food outlets everywhere. A space of 750 sq ft is a decent size.

"You can probably get 100 people in there if you cram them all in. It will be a small, cosy pub and that’s why people often like to go.”

It was welcomed by the committee, with Councillor Andy Roberts saying: “The bar is a beautiful one”.

Councillor Paul Denham said: “It’s a very imaginative proposal, I know it’s on CAMRA’s list of interesting interiors.”