ONE of Hyndburn's oldest pubs will be boarded up within the next two weeks, leaving a close-knit community without a watering hole.
Green Haworth's last remaining pub, the Shoulder of Mutton, is to be converted into a single house despite a desperate campaign by regulars.
Four letters of objection along with a petition signed by over 70 people were received by Hyndburn Council after a Save Our Pub campaign was launched.
Villagers are furious that their only pub is to close just a few years after they lost the village's other pub, the Red Lion.
Speaking at a meeting of Hyndburn Council's Planning Committe, Mr Brian Birtle, of Friar Hill, said: "Many people are against this proposal. The pub is a valuable resource and is very important to maintaining a community spirit. If it is closed people will be forced to take a taxi into town.
"They say it is not financially viable but it is just after Christmas and the pub is popular with ramblers and walkers in the summer. We feel if the company doesn't make a short-term effort to make the business work, it will be at the long-term expense of the community.''
Mr Birtle, who attended along with eight other residents, said the pub was the area's only meeting place and lack of transport after 4.30pm would make the community more isolated.
They argue that poor management of the pub has contributed to its decline but if prices were reasonable and more effort put into marketing, the "Shoulder'' could be restored to a profitable, lively local pub.
The pub, on Cross Edge, has been in the village for over 200 years and has a thriving social circle with dominoes, darts and pools teams.
It is also the venue for an annual beer festival in June and regularly plays host to folk musicians and live music.
But Ken Turner, chief executive of Weston Castle Ltd, a Chorley-based company which has bought the "Shoulder'' along with three other pubs, said it was costing the company £25,000 a year.
They also own the Railway on Blackburn Road and the Queens on Eastgate, both in Accrington, and the Thorn Inn on St James Road, Church.
Addressing councillors, Mr Turner, said: "We put a lot of money into our pubs but this business has come to the end of the road. We are very sympathetic to the residents and unforunately it's the first pub we have ever had to close down."
Councillors backed the planning officers' recommendation to approve the application for change of use and the creation of a garden and two parking spaces, which Mr Birtle said was "very disappointing".