Plans have been lodged for a four-storey apartment block at the rear of one of Williamstown’s oldest hotels, the Rose of Australia.

Pantelli Investments has applied to Hobsons Bay council to build 22 dwellings with basement parking and alterations to the Ferguson Street hotel which last year celebrated its 150th anniversary.

Publican Darren Green, who took over the lease in 2014, said the applicant was retaining the liquor licence but the current version of the Rose would be gone.

“The problem is, there’s not enough people here,” he said. “There’s no money left in running a small pub. The rent is too high, everything’s too high.

“Williamstown’s losing everything … you could come down here on a Saturday night and shoot a gun and you’ll hit no one.

“This main street will all be four storeys, eventually … it’s only a matter of time.”

The Rose was established in 1867 by John Morgan who was a member of the borough council, according to the

Pubs of Williamstown guide by late local historian Bruce Tait.

One of the most eccentric publicans of the hotel was New Zealander Denis Irwin, who took over in 1987 and is thought to have been the first to introduce topless barmaids to Williamstown.

He had the hotel’s rose insignia tattooed on his rear, a decision that Mr Tait speculated he must have regretted: “It would always be a permanent reminder of his days at the ‘Broken Nose’, as he now called it.”

ARG Planning, acting for the applicant, was contacted for comment.

The application will be advertised in due course.