CAMPAIGNERS have called for blanket protection for pubs across the city to prevent the closure of community venues.

Save The Dyke Pub campaigners want Brighton and Hove City Council to follow in the footsteps of Wandsworth council - which have brought in rules meaning pubs can only be converted into shops, estate agents or homes by applying for planning permission.

The call came as residents handed in a petition of more 1,400 signatures to the council on Thursday night.

At the meeting, Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald called on millionaire owner Martin Webb to sell the pub to the community or a new buyer determined to keep the pub open.

The campaign was launched after the overnight closure of the pub in September 4 – reopening as a furniture shop.

Campaign organiser Jo Redfern said signatures were collected in a fortnight for the petition calling for the building to be converted into an asset of community value which would allow the community to bid for it should it come on the market.

She said the pub served as a venue for 23 community groups before its closure and had been part of the community for more than 120 years.

She added: “It’s closure has left a real hole in our community.

“We have been told that nobody wants to buy the pub but we have found interested parties including the Gingerman pub chain.”

Councillor Geoffrey Theobald also criticised claims made in public by Mr Webb that the venue had been losing money over the past 18 months pointing to accounts that seemed to indicate the venue made a profit of £176,000 in 2015.

He said: “My plea to the owner is to sell this building or lease it to the community or to those businesses that want to take this pub on.

“I’m quite convinced anyone taking this over would have a gold mine.”

Planning committee chairwoman Julie Cattell said she would be meeting the senior planning officer at a London borough to discuss how to prevent this situation happening again.

She praised the scale of the campaign that had been brought together in a short time and said she was happy to offer her support to try and save the pub.

Green councillor Leo Littman said that the last act of the coalition government in 2015 allowed landlords to apply for a change of use by simply contacting the local authority and without planning application which would have to be publicised.

He said: “No one in the community knew about this until it was too late.”