A former Wetherspoons pub in Essex is set to reopen under new management as a hybrid pub and restaurant after closing its doors in May due to a “commercial decision” by the pub chain.

The Last Post pub in High Road, Loughton, was described by Epping Forest attendees of Wednesday’s (September 13) planning committee meeting as “very well known” in the local area.

Despite previous objections from Loughton Town Council and one local resident, the re-opening of The Last Post for “flexible use” as a hybrid pub and restaurant was recommended for approval, with planning officer James Rogers saying that the move “will support the vitality and viability of the town centre as a whole”.

Councillor Howard Kauffman (Loughton Residents Association, Loughton St Mary’s) supported the officer’s recommendations.

He said: “We must try to support the High Street, and we know pubs which don’t serve food are not really viable.

“We have to have a thriving High Street; at the moment it’s on its knees.”

Cllr Kauffman emphasised the need to take objectors’ concerns into consideration, as the pub had previously “caused a nightmare for residents” while operating as a branch of Wetherspoons due to incidents of anti-social behaviour.

Objecting to the proposal, local resident Scott Crawford said that the change of the building’s use from a post office to a pub in 1993 was “generous and radical”, and expressed concern over potential noise and further anti-social behaviour nuisances.

He said: “We the residents have experienced disorderly behaviour and noise as a result of this establishment,” but noted that the situation was manageable due to the restrictions prohibiting the use of outdoor areas for additional seating being in place.

Mr Crawford questioned whether the proposal to reopen the pub on the basis of ‘flexible’ use was “a sneaky way to get around these restrictions at last”, saying that noise from the pub “could still cause problems before 11pm” – the time at which the pub stops operating.

“We need your help to ensure sensible restrictions remain in place to protect the residents, no matter how flexible the commercial use will become,” he said.

Councillor Chris Pond (Loughton Residents Association, Loughton Broadway) said: “Wetherspoons did not permit (playing amplified) music, which was one saving grace of the operation.”

Planning permission was granted for the pub to reopen on the conditions that music could not be audible outside of the premises, and that it would not remain open past 11pm.