SUPPORTERS of The Bottle Inn in Marshwood voted unanimously to back the plan to try to buy the pub on behalf of the community at a meeting on Monday.

They also want to consider affordable housing on its four-acre plot.

Around 40 members of the Supporters’ Association agreed it was worth the effort to keep the troubled pub in the village.

Owners Michael and Pauline Brookes, who live in Australia, said the historic inn would be worth around £450,000.

A committee was formed on Monday to see how they could raise the money. Association organiser Mark Van de Weyer said: “This could come both from local people offering to invest and from grants from organisations such as The National Lottery.”

Members also agreed to consider exploring the idea of using part of the nearly four acres of land around The Bottle for affordable housing.

Mr Van de Weyer said combining the pub with affordable housing would be a win/win situation for the village.

He said: “We would get new homes for local families which are desperately needed and at the same time this would assist in producing a viable plan for saving The Bottle.”

The pub, which dates from 1585, has had a troubled history and has closed down on three separate occasions in the last five years.

When further uncertainty about The Bottle’s future arose last autumn regular customers formed the Supporters Association and it now has more than 100 members.

The association has already succeeded in getting the pub registered with West Dorset District Council as an asset of community value.

The community now has six months to raise the market value of the property.

Last month the pub was chosen by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) as West Dorset’s pub of the year.

But money is urgently needed for repairs to the building and it is unable to run a restaurant until improvements have been carried out to the kitchen.