THE owners of a historic pub have come up with plans to fight back against a business-wide slump in trade.

Proposals have been submitted for major alterations at the Grade II listed Greyhound Inn, in Staple Fitzpaine.

Hall and Woodhouse are asking Taunton Deane Borough Council for planning permission for the changes.

The main project includes converting the function room into three letting rooms; removing the games room to create an external dining area; and reworking the internal dining area "to make better use of trade space and toilet facilities".

In a note accompanying the application, the applicant says: "The British pub is an institution under threat.

"During the past decade, a series of legislative, social and economic trends have conspired to squeeze industry revenue and margins, forcing many pubs out of business.

"Already reeling from the ban on smoking in public places, patronage and industry revenue have been buffeted by rising beer duty, declining alcohol consumption, competition from low supermarket alcohol prices and the

economic downturn.

"At the same time, operators have been squeezed by rising beverage and food prices, increasing rent and higher business rates."

It adds: "Currently the Greyhound Inn, like all public houses, is seeking to make itself more robust in this difficult financial climate.

"An analysis by the owners has highlighted several shortfalls which the owners are seeking to rectify with this application."

The document says that the Greyhound has had to turn away potential B&B customers, particularly during the peak summer period, due to lack of capacity.

And the games room has become "redundant" due to underuse, while the trade area "reflects an older style of public house not in keeping with the current trend for more open spaced affairs which tie in with the food-led culture that most pubs have had to adapt".