ONE of Bexley Village's landmark buildings is to get a new lease of life as homes and offices.

The Old Mill, a former pub and restaurant in the High Street and in the heart of the village's conservation area, has been closed for months and speculation about its future was rife.

The pub restaurant closed in the autumn of last year for refurbishment, with the intention of reopening with an extended licence.

This proposal was likely to have provoked considerable opposition, as the village already has a large number of pubs and licensed restaurants and is also an alcohol control zone.

At the same time, it was also put up for sale with the potential to continue as a pub restaurant or be converted into offices or apartments.

Now its new owner, Apex Bexley Investments, plans to create offices for its own business as well as five one-bedroom, three two-bedroom and two three-bedroom flats above.

The building, which is locally listed, is a replica of the original listed mill which stood on the site and was destroyed in a fire in 1966.

The original water wheel still survives inside the building.

Since 1973 it has been used as a pub restaurant.

Andrew Cox, from Apex, told Bexley's planning control committee he was aware of the importance of the building to the residents of Bexley.

He said a public consultation held by the company in April had produced an overwhelmingly positive reaction to Apex's plans.

He added: "We believe these proposals enhance this important building and bring it back to life."

The mature willow trees at the front and rear of the building will be preserved and so will the landscaped areas around the river.

There will be 19 car parking spaces at the back of the building and two at the front and the exterior of the building will have few alterations, mainly at the rear.

The waterwheel will be retained as a feature in the office reception area.

There were no objections from residents to the proposals, which were unanimously approved by the committee.