The buyer of a village pub which closed its doors to drinkers could become home to a new business.
Following the closure of The Grey Horse in Whitburn by pub company Greene King in February, the property has been bought by investment company Grey Horse Inn Limited.
It has now confirmed it plans convert the ground floor of the 1840 building into a shop, with two flats created upstairs, alongside the former manager’s accommodation above, with a change of use application in the pipeline.
The venture could create up to 20 full and part-time jobs.
The company has said the shop will operate as a small convenience store, "helping meet the day-to-day needs of local residents."
They said they had looked at keeping it as a pub after calls from residents, but it was not possible.
The store will carry a basic range of groceries, ready meals, sandwiches and snacks, beers, wines and spirits and a range of fresh fruit and vegetables.
A spokesperson for the company, Vanessa Warbrick said: “The property was on the market for over two years and we’re sorry the pub was ultimately closed by Greene King prior to us acquiring it.
"Since then, we have worked tirelessly with a local interested party/resident who told us they would like to see it stay as a pub.
"We agreed to go down every avenue that might enable this property to stay in its original use and give us the security needed as an investment/development company.
"We reached-out to all the national and regional pub companies who unfortunately advised this location would not be sustainable.
"In addition, no-one local was willing or able to take it upon themselves to put up the funds needed to refurbish this asset or acquire it to retain it as a pub.
"We have therefore taken the decision to submit a planning application to keep the building in use and convert it to a retail shop/flats, making sure it is fully refurbished and maintained in its former glory and does not become dilapidated as many old village pubs have done.”
The company says the conversion to a convenience store will "ensure the Grey Horse is fully retained and sensitively converted, with private flats upstairs."
The external appearance would be unchanged except for signage sympathetic to its prominent conservation area location.
If planning permission is granted, it is expected work could commence, with a shop open by the end of the year.
The Grey Horse in Whitburn is not a listed building, although it has been recognised as a Locally Significant Heritage Asset by South Tyneside Council.
This means the building should not be demolished, and external alterations should remain in character.