AN action group has been set up to fight a housing plan residents fear would “rip out the village atmosphere” of a community.

More than 100 people packed into the Moss Bank Mission to protest at the plan to demolish the landmark Black Horse pub and build 16 luxury homes.

As revealed by the St Helens Star last month, developers are seeking permission for the estate to be constructed at the historic Moss Bank Road site, including the bowling green and car park.

Neighbours decided to form the action committee, which will fight the plans of developers Steppingstone Group.

The meeting studied legal ways of halting the proposals.

It also set out some of the traffic problems already faced in the village, while the potential loss of parking to the adjacent Moss Bank Mission – which hosts groups for pensioners and numerous social groups – was also brought into sharp focus.

Rita Allcock, 74, secretary of the action group, said: “We are angry that the whole character of the place could end up changing.

“Obviously we want to keep the pub, but if that cannot be saved we need to keep it as a building.

“There has been a bowling green there since the pub opened 300 years ago.

“The Moss Bank Bowling Club had a lottery grant a few years ago and made improvements there – now they are searching for somewhere else to bowl.”

The Black Horse is one of the oldest pubs in St Helens, and is believed to date back to the 18th century.

The proposed scheme would involve flattening it and building two to five-bedroom homes.