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Great Cornard: Plans to convert Highbury Barn pub to a food shop are approved

07:00 15 May 2014

It was the end of an era for an 18th Century west Suffolk pub yesterday after councillors granted permission for it to be converted into a shop.

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The plans for Highbury Barn in Great Cornard were waved through by Babergh District Council yesterday morning, with owners Punch Taverns looking to change the pub into a food shop.

It comes as The Dairy Store in Great Cornard, which houses the village post office, is set to close its doors this weekend.

Planning committee chairman and councillor for the area Peter Beer said: “The viability of the smaller shops to make a go does seem to be very difficult at the moment.

“It’s the old saying – use it or lose it. I think this is what happened when it was a public house, and it’s a great pity because at one time it was a very good public house.

“Like all pubs, they are really struggling nowadays.”

An existing extension at the pub will be demolished and replaced with a new one, while an ATM will also be installed. Campaigners had previously saved the building from demolition, but Gavin France said he was still “very disappointed” with the committee’s latest decision.

He added: “It’s totally unnecessary, what they’ve just approved. We’re losing too many pubs to shops and things like that.

“We’ve lost a very important social venue and part of the heritage of Great Cornard will be lost now.”

Punch Taverns had previously wanted to demolish the building and build a supermarket on the site, but was fought off after a community campaign.

However, Great Cornard Parish Council backed the latest proposals from Punch Taverns, saying they would rather see the building in use than standing empty.

The pub has been listed as an asset of community value, which gives local groups the chance to raise money to buy properties of value to the community, and Mr France said this might be an option if the building was ever put up for sale.

A spokeswoman for Punch Taverns added that a squatter that had recently moved into the building had been issued with an eviction notice.

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