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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2006, 21:24 GMT
Hardy pub under demolition threat
Dorchester is known as Casterbridge in Thomas Hardy's novels
A pub made famous by writer Thomas Hardy could be demolished to make way for 12 flats and three shops.

The White Hart features in Hardy's Far From The Madding Crowd and three other short stories.

The historic pub in Dorchester, known as Casterbridge in Hardy's novels, does not make enough profit to keep it open.

But a spokeswoman for the Thomas Hardy Society criticised the plans, saying the pub itself should be preserved for future generations.

Western Design Architects have produced plans for brewers Hall and Woodhouse, which owns the pub.

They are now hoping to get them passed by West Dorset District Council's planning board.

We have so much history here we tend to ignore it and we don't see the huge impact it has for people coming from other countries
Thomas Hardy Society spokeswoman

They have pledged to put the pub's iconic white hart statue on a plinth in the centre of a public space with information about Hardy and its history.

But the Thomas Hardy Society, which promotes the enjoyment and study of the writer's life and work, wants to see the pub saved from the bulldozers.

The spokeswoman said: "We are surprised and disappointed that these sites which have such real connection with Hardy and are the reason for many people coming to visit Dorset and Dorchester are going at such an alarming rate.

"We have so much history here we tend to ignore it and we don't see the huge impact it has for people coming from other countries.

Principle planning officer Andrew Martin confirmed the council had received the plans and was considering the application.

It is the third time Western Design Architects have submitted plans for a development of the site.

The first set of plans were withdrawn in December 2003 after it became clear planning permission would be refused and the second were rejected by the planning board in April 2005.

The White Hart also features in A Changed Man, The Withered Arm and A Few Crusted Characters.


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