VILLAGERS who fought to save their only pub from housing developers face the same plight once again.

The General Elliot in South Hinksey is up for sale a year after reopening under new ownership.

Cass and Helen Hazlewood bought the lease in 2014 after five years of closure, beating off attempts by builders to turn the abandoned building into homes.

Their challenge to breathe new life into the much-loved community hub appears to have fallen flat, as Vale Brewery has regained ownership and is selling up.

Peter Rawcliffe, who lives in the village, said: "It's all a bit of a mystery. It's been closed for months.

"The vast majority of people are disappointed with the way it's happened. Nobody quite knows what's going on. People would be very sad to lose the pub, having been so excited when it reopened."

Estate agent Davis Coffer Lyons is selling the pub at a guide price of £550,000.

The three-storey stone building comes with a beer garden, parking and a staff annexe, plus outline planning permission for five additional letting rooms.

Paul Tallentyre, executive director of the estate agent's pubs and bars team, said: “The pub market in Oxford is particularly strong at the moment, buoyed by some new developments that has made it very difficult to find sites – especially freeholds in popular locations such as this.”

The pub was Oxford Camra’s pub of the year in 2007 and 2008 but closed in 2009 after the landlord disappeared.

Villager Adrian Porter, 44, ran several campaigns to keep it safe from housing developers before Mr and Mrs Hazlewood bought the lease.

He said: "A community pub is hugely important. It's the focal point of the village. We know we are not big enough to keep the pub running – we need to have a commercial part to it."

Though the building is being sold as a pub, a buyer could apply for permission for a change of use.

Mr Porter, who is involved with Oxford Flood Alliance, said he was approached weeks ago by a keen developer who was put off by the pub's proximity to a floodplain.

He said: "He wanted to create a destination pub and had his sights set on the General Elliot.

"He was keen to understand the community and was asking about the flood risk. I was able to say how many times the pub has been flooded and said it is in a fairly good position now. The risk is totally manageable.

"He went away very happy and very keen. I thought his idea would work very well in Oxford, it would be a great asset."

But after more talks with flood experts the mystery man dropped his plans.

The phone lines have been cut off at the General Elliot and Mr and Mrs Hazlewood could not be reached for comment.

Mr Porter added: "Cass and Helen restored the pub and that's a real credit to them. They showed its potential – it can work."

He suggested their downfall may have been inconsistent service, but noted that they were "brand new to the pub trade".

The last two Tripadvisor reviews of the pub were posted in February and boasted five-star ratings.