VILLAGERS came out fighting to save a much loved pub which faces the threat of being turned into a house, with additional housing built on its grounds.

Around 130 people packed out Callow End Village Hall to attend an emergency meeting, to show their support for a campaign to save The Old Bush Inn and its gardens.

The parish is compiling a community asset application, which if successful, will give the pub charity status and protect it from planning applications for five years, after it was sold at auction for £275,000.

Councillor Tom Wells, district and county councillor for the Powick division, speaking at the meeting said: "The old adage that you don't know what you've got until it's gone is never truer here.

To successfully register the pub as a community asset, we have to demonstrate why it's important to the village and who it used by and why."

"I am calling on everyone in the village for support to keep this pub going. We must get this community application submitted before the developer's planning application for housing is submitted."

More than ten groups stated they use the pub, and will provide supporting statements to Malvern Hill District Council along with the community asset application.

A petition was circulated at the meeting too, and signed by everyone in attendance.

Another added perk of registering the pub as a community asset is that the village can then purchase the pub, which has been closed for around nine weeks now.

The owner of the public house will not be allowed to sell to anybody for the first six months, and the villagers would have to have first right of refusal against any potential buyers after that time-frame.

Cllr Wells said: "It gives us the power to purchase the pub as a social enterprise.

"Sponsorship, donations or through shareholders are all possibilities to purchase the pub, if the community asset application is successful.

"That is an avenue to be explored, but first we must get community asset status, this is the first stage.

"The pub stands a good chance of being successful if the village owns it.

"The other pubs in the village compliment each other well, so the The Old Bush should be OK against competitors as they all offer different things."

It is expected the community asset application will be submitted within two weeks, and will take an estimated eight weeks to reach a verdict.

Chairman of Powick parish council, Andy Lamb, said : "We have to show this isn't a dormitory village, and that we can facilitate here.

"We want people to be working within the parish, so it remains sustainable.

"The pub running achieves that, especially if it's run by the parish, and improves quality of life of people living here.

"There is also strong public feeling about this pub, and because of these reasons this parish supports this application."

The former landlord of the pub, Matt Williams, travelled back from Hampshire for Monday night's meeting.

Mr Williams left Callow End in 1996, but said he would consider coming back to run the pub, which is believed to be operating for more than 100 years, if the campaign is successful.

He said: "This pub means so much to everybody in this village, it can't be closed.

"I had great times here, and would definitely consider coming back to run it."

One Callow End resident, Audra Allard, said: "The pub has not become run down because of people not going, it just needs someone to come in with new energy and new ideas to get it going again.

"We all miss this pub very much being open."