PLANNERS have called 'time' on the oldest building in Dromara despite an outcry among villagers.

Officials have given the final go-ahead for the demolition of O'Reilly's Bar to make way for 10 duplex and two penthouse apartments.

The move was not unexpected.

The planned development had previously been given the nod, moves to have the building listed reportedly rejected due to alterations already carried out to the aged pub, said to have existed as a coach house when King William III passed through Dromara in the late 17th century.

But with the village's historical society petitioning against the plans, Councillor Allan Ewart had called for a deferral at a meeting of Lisburn Council's planning committee, citing concerns over the historical nature of the building and the potential erosion of village character.

He said at the time, "Right across the area there have been many old buildings knocked down; the place loses its character and everywhere now is apartments."

Some 277 people signed up to the petition in an attempt to save a building campaigners said was "steeped in history", having been put to a wide variety of uses over the course of more than 300 years.

But even as Mr. Ewart mounted a last-ditch attempt to change planners' minds, sources were saying local concerns had been taken into account in arriving at the decision to approve the plans and it was expected that decision would be upheld.

So it proved. Despite an office meeting, hailed by Mr. Ewart as a chance for protesters to "give it their best shot" to safeguard the building, planners stuck to their guns when they met with Lisburn Council last week.

With the way now clear for redevelopment, villagers' one remaining hope is for a change of heart from the applicant.

Indeed campaigners long since publicly appealed to the developer to rethink his plans.

"All we can do is appeal to the developer's better nature and hope he will decide to spare this historic building," said one.