Leatherhead residents are one step closer to saving a demolished pub from residential development, after a retrospective application to demolish the historic pub was unanimously refused last week.

Months after the Royal Oak pub on Kingston Road underwent an unauthorised demolition last November, developers had sought retrospective permission to demolish the site and build 20 flats and a community facility.

A change in the law in May of last year requires planning permission for the demolition of pubs.

The application was heard by Mole Valley District Council’s development control committee on October 3.

The council’s planning officers had previously recommended for the application to be approved, despite a petition with over 300 signatures and 72 letters.

Lucy Quinnell, 52, a Leatherhead resident and business owner, said she was pleased by the decision and felt that it was the right call.

She added: “Seeing as the UK protects pubs for a very good reason and seeing the law broken was very difficult to watch. It has been a really good morale booster for the community to feel that they were listened to by the councillors. The councillors were very eloquent.”

In a post on Facebook, Ms Quinnell wrote: "A long road ahead now, but tonight we celebrate compassion and the significance through the ages of spaces where people can meet and socialise.

"Getting to this point has been a jigsaw of efforts by so many people who cared about community and wanted to see the just outcome here. Well done to everyone who refused to shrug their shoulders and turn a blind eye to an obvious wrong."

Pub protection coordinator Chris Miller said: " We are delighted that the case which we and others made about the damage to the community of North Leatherhead arising from loss of the Royal Oak pub was taken sufficiently seriously by the committee members."