An Upper Hale pub has applied for planning permission to convert its restaurant into extra residential space, and turn its remaining bar into a smaller 'tap room'.

Under the change of use plans for The Alfred Free House on the corner of Bishops Road and Folly Lane North in Upper Hale, only the pub’s ground-floor bar and seating area, toilets and a small outdoor seating area would remain.

The rest of the ground floor would be converted into living accommodation, with its number of private bedrooms doubling from two to four.

Applicant Mark Curran, who has owned The Alfred since 2008, has applied for the "change of use of part of the ground floor of The Alfred Public House from ancillary restaurant (use Class Sui Generis) to residential (use Class C3)".

The pub's planning application states: "The proposals for the change of use reflect the changing needs of the family and the economic environment. The restaurant is no longer economical and does not produce sufficient income to justify its presence within the public house.

"This is coupled with the need of the owners to extend their living space. Accordingly, removing the restaurant with no impact on the remaining public house will address both issues."

The pub's ground floor currently comprises the main bar and seating area, as well as the restaurant, kitchen and other ancillary spaces for the business. A private staff lounge is also located on the ground floor.

Its first floor currently provides the staff bedrooms and toilets, as well the kitchen.

The planning application states: "It is intended to retain the existing bar and seating area and convert the remainder of the downstairs of the property into a residential space for the owners of the Public House.

"The upstairs of the property will be reorganised to provide two further bedrooms."

The pub car park usually has space for 10 vehicles, but since May 2020 a marquee has been located within the car parking area to increase the outdoor trading area, reducing the number of parking spaces to five. The plans propose to reduce the number of car parking spaces to five permanently.

On the potential loss of a historic town pub, the application adds: "The applicant is very aware of the part that the public house plays within the community and has no desire to take away this important facility.

"The public house element of the business is therefore intended to be retained and to continue running as it does now albeit on a smaller scale and in the form as a tap room.

"The restaurant, however, requires significant investment of time and money to run and the economic climate means that it can no longer continue as part of the business."

It also quotes national planning policy, stating local authorities "must allow for businesses to react to the environment in which they operate and to economic changes in circumstance".

"The change of use proposed will allow the applicant to do that, and to protect the future of the public house," the application concludes.

Built in 1856 and formerly known as The Prince Alfred, The Alfred Free House in Upper Hale was for the first time in its long history crowned pub of the year by the Surrey and Hants Borders branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in 2020.

The property is also a designated building of local merit.

At the time of writing, just one member of the public has commented on the application.

Brenda Sones, a pub neighbour, wrote in support of the plans, saying: "I live opposite the side elevation of the pub and I completely understand why they need to change the use of the restaurant.

"I am actually very pleased that the side elevation (which is in Folly Lane North) is being enhanced as I look out on this from my kitchen, dining room and lounge, and it is very much in need of facelift!"

It comes just weeks after The Alfred owners also announced plans to open a new craft ale house in Farnham town centre.

View the plans for The Alfred Free House in full and comment here.