PLANS to transform a historic house into a modern cafe-bar have been given the green light.

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Babergh district councillors described the proposal to turn a 15th Century property in Lady Street, Lavenham, into a business serving alcohol, coffees and snacks as “exciting, innovative and brave”.

The Grade I-Listed property, which is owned by former Ipswich Town director Holly Bellingham-Turner and her husband, is believed to be on a par with Lavenham’s famous Guildhall in terms of it historical significance. Listed building consent, granted by Babergh’s planning committee on Wednesday, will also allow for a first-floor flat for the business owners and guest accomodation.

Joanna Knight, who will run the new enterprise with her partner Rod Benson, told the committee the business would offer “something different” to the current village tea rooms and pubs. It would also contribute to the local economy by using locally-sourced products, and would provide four new jobs.

Speaking at the meeting, committee member Clive Arthy described the proposal as a “fantastic idea” that would add to the vibrancy of the village.

His colleague John Hinton said: “Turning this beautiful old building into a business will also provide a good way of keeping it maintained for future generations.”

Another committee member, David Busby, added: “It is very brave of this couple to take this on in the current economic climate and I think it is a great proposal.”

Very few objections to the application were sent to the council. The only concerns were about possible parking issues. But Ms Knight said: “Highways have been consulted and are happy that there is plenty of free parking in Lavenham.”

Following the meeting, Mr Benson said he was delighted with the outcome, adding: “We are pleased that we can now get the project under way and make this a reality.”

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