PLANS have been announced to convert a former pub into flats to address local housing needs.

Ryedale District Council has said it intends to buy the former Railway Tavern in Norton.

The authority plans to convert the building, on the corner of Wold Street and Church Street, into self-contained one-bedroom flats.

The Railway Tavern dates back to the 19th century when it first opened as a public house.

It closed several years ago and briefly reopened as a newsagents and shop.

Concerns over the condition of the building, which has since remained empty have been raised by the public and Norton Town Council.

Two years ago the town council wrote to Ryedale District Council asking the authority to intervene and look at ways to improve the appearance of the building which is in a conservation area.

The district council has now agreed to buy the former pub and convert it into flats to address local housing needs.

Councillor Keane Duncan, Leader of Ryedale District Council, said: “ There is a high demand for this type of accommodation in Norton and very limited supply.

“This project will be paid for by grant funding and contributions from developers, known as commuted sums, rather than the council’s own funds.”

Cllr Duncan added: “Sadly the days of the Railway Tavern operating as a pub are over.

“The building has been dormant for several years and has become a blight on the centre of Norton.

“Residential accommodation is really the only viable option.

The council therefore thinks it is right to step in to conduct a high quality conversion that does the building justice.

“The proposal also fits with the council’s priority to address housing need in Ryedale. “

Cllr Duncan said: “There is a shortage of this type of housing, particularly in Norton, and this proposal will help address that gap.”