The owner of an historic pub with “stunning” river views has denied claims he has made it 'cheap and cheerful' after nearly 200 objections to proposals to make most of it residential.

Locals at the Old Ferry Inn in Bodinnick near Fowey say they are worried about the future of their much loved local after permission was sought to convert part of the 400-year-old building to residential use.

Their case has been taken up by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) which says a new application to make even more of the pub residential leaving just a small bar and family room will “kill” its viability.

They say after reopening in March 2023 the owners changed their business model and became “cheap and cheerful”. Business hours were heavily reduced- opening at 3pm and not serving food until 5pm.

“Amazingly the pub is not listed,” says CAMRA. “The locals who use the pub regularly have made their objections clear and the owner has told them to put a proposition together to buy him out.

“Those who use and love the pub are keen to gather as much support as possible to save this vital community asset. They are a rural community and there isn't another pub for miles. In winter the ferry to Fowey has limited service- finishing at 7pm so locals rely on it even more.”

So far this new application has had 200 objections from local residents. In 2022 they applied to convert part of the building into a residential dwelling. This permission was granted and the locals were told it was the only option to keep the business viable.

CAMRA says the owner is yet to sell this part of the pub despite having completed the building works.

But owner Paul Worswick said the pub was in a very sorry state when he and his business partner bought it in 2021 with no significant investment for decades by previous owners. Since then he said they had invested well over a million pounds in it.

“When we got planning permission we borrowed more money to complete the conversion as well as invest further into the pub – the latest being re-roofing, exterior painting, replacing and repairing windows, new plumbing and electrics, removing all the dangerous asbestos, re-furbishing rooms etc. We have invested well over a million pounds in renovation costs,” he said.

“Sadly, we like pubs up and down the country are struggling with much higher costs in utilities, food and drink, staffing etc. and also with lower trade.”

He denied CAMRA’s claim that they had made the pub “cheap and cheerful” but said they had been trying several different ways to make the pub successful.

“We are conscious that people are feeling the pinch so we have reduced our drink prices (real ale, cider and lager all start under £4.50 per pint) and we serve a traditional largely homemade pub menu where all the starters are under £10 and mains range from £12 to £17 for steak and chips.

“We were open from lunchtime throughout 2022 and it was a significant loss making period for us – our trade was much stronger in the evenings hence why we moved to 3pm opening.”

He said they are a small village but enjoy the support of around 20 locals who come in most weeks, usually on a Friday night.

“However of the other objectors (there are around 200 objections) most of them haven’t spent a penny in the pub this year,” he said.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of objections and people who have signed up to oppose our plans I just wish that they all actually used the pub which they are so passionate about.”