THREE months after a planning application to change its use from a pub to a care home was rejected, the Red Dragon in Caia Park has been boarded up.

Campaigners fighting to keep their local intact have learned it has been sold and say they are worried about what might happen to the building.

Earlier this year the Leader revealed that a plan to turn the Red Dragon into a rehabilitation centre for people recovering from brain injuries had sparked fury among local residents who feared they would lose the last pub serving the huge council estate.

They argued it had become a real community hub since it was taken over two years ago by popular landlord and landlady Paul and Linda Slater.

A Sunday league football team had been using it as a base and darts and pool teams had been meeting there regularly.

In early March the council’s planning committee turned down the change of use application but any thoughts of a reprieve were dashed a few weeks ago when the building, in Prince Charles Road, was boarded up.

Kath Williams, who led the campaign against the care home plan and is assistant secretary of the Red Dragon’s football team, said: “We don’t know who has bought it.

“It was boarded up all of a sudden and the last managers left.

“We are desperately hoping it will remain as a pub because it is the base for the Sunday League team and the darts and pool teams, and they have nowhere else to meet.

“Admiral Taverns, the previous owners, have not told us anything but if there is another application for change of use we will oppose that too.”

Local councillor Carrie Harper said: “The community came together and worked very hard to oppose the previous planning application so I’m very much hoping the intention of the new owners is to retain it for the community as a public house.”

A spokesman for Admiral Taverns said: “From time to time we review the pubs that we own.

“Unfortunately, the Red Dragon no longer fits our criteria for ownership within our estate.”

The spokesman said he could not reveal the identity of the new owners.