SIGNS of life at The True Heart Inn have begun to stir in Bishopstone, where plans for a refurbishment and two new building plots have been shown to villagers.

The pub has been vacant since 2009, when proprietor Mandy Hickton decided to move on after a family bereavement.

But now an idea to get the True Heart pumping again has been drawn up.

Owners John and Rosa Jones, who also run The Royal Oak in Wootton Rivers, handed out flyers around the village ahead of Bishopstone Parish Council’s meeting on March 3.

The flyers show plans for two detached houses at the rear of the property, a 10-bay car park, paved terrace, pub garden, and an extended, refurbished pub.

Parish councillors were told the couple would use proceeds from the sale of the building plots to fund the refurbishment of the pub.

The aim of the presentation was to gauge public reaction before submitting plans to Swindon Council, although owner John Jones, who attended the meeting, may not have been heartened by the response he received.

Ian Thomas, a parish councillor, said most of the 50 residents present were not impressed and did not want the site changed.

Mr Thomas said the council felt the plans had legs but needed tweaking before they could back it.

He said: “The plan didn’t go down well. A lot of the public just want the pub to stay as it is with a big car park.

“Many people will drive from outside the village, which will lead to people parking on the village streets, which are already suffering.

“Some were concerned that not enough of the money raised from the sale of the building plots would be used on the pub.

“There are people on the parish council who want to explore it more. There is a different planning climate with the pressure on local authorities to grant more housing.”

Mr Thomas said the owner and their design partner, Fowler Architecture and Planning (FAAP), had resolved to re-assess the plans to see if the car park could be enlarged.

This is not the first time the Jones’ have considered using the site for residential plots.

In 2010 plans to convert the pub into two dwellings with two more on the car park were vetoed by Swindon Council, with an appeal turned down too.

Mike Fowler, of FAAP, said: “John is getting older and wants to sort things out with a future for the site.

“We are looking at overcoming the concerns by extending the car park and reducing the size of the two dwellings. “We won’t go through with these plans unless we get overwhelming local support.”