The demolition of a popular community pub has received a mixed reaction from the community.

Work began this week to tear down the Sir Winston Churchill pub in The Broadway, Debden, and replace it with 64 flats and shops in a six-storey block.

A community campaign to save the pub failed after the council approved the scheme which, it is hoped, will help regenerate the area.

Reacting to the start of the work, former Sir Winston Churchill manager, Jenny Coombs, said: “I am very sad. It really is such a shame and so many people are upset about it.

“The demolition happened so quickly, we left on Monday, we were meant to leave by 10am and the demolition team had already been sat there since 7.30am.

“I have spoken to some of the locals and they’re glad that it wasn’t just boarded up and left, but upset that it is gone.”

Tom Acornley, 25, of Homecroft Gardens, near the pub, said: “I’m gutted, there are not many local pubs left in Debden any more, that are good to go to. Completely gutted.”

Roger Taylor, 34, of nearby Grange Crescent, said: “It’s disgraceful – another local landmark has gone. It all happened very quick, and now it’s gone, I would have thought we would have been given a say.”

Ryan Smithers, 23, of Willingale Road, said: “I’m unhappy because it’s a local pub and I think what is replacing it will not fit into the area.”

But Joan Cleeve, 64, of Colebrook Lane, welcomed new building in the area, adding: “Debden needed a makeover so I am happy about the new building.

“It’s sad to see the pub go but I think now we can start to modernise the area. It’s a positive thing.”