PROPOSALS have been put forward that would transform a listed 17th Century pub in the heart of a mid Suffolk village.

The Cherry Tree Inn in Debenham has been closed for two years but has recently been purchased and ambitious plans have been drawn up that would see it restored and expanded.

The proposals include provision for a cafe/restaurant area in the pub, an upstairs function room, two holiday let properties, four houses on adjacent land, a deli shop and hair salon.

Under the proposals, which have been submitted to Mid Suffolk District Council, the development and associated parking spaces would spread on to the disused bowling green that adjoins the pub premises.

Debenham once had 12 pubs but now only the Angel and the Woolpack are still trading.

Architect Rob Marsh-Feiley, of Framlingham-based Hollins Architects and Surveyors, said there was “quite substantial” work to be done to upgrade the neglected pub to the required standard.

He said: “The plan is for the pub to be restored, hopefully back to more of its original character of the period building - a 17th Century coaching inn.

“The pub is in a real state, a right mess. In terms of where it is and the location in Debenham, it is definitely the most viable pub down there (for renovation and restoration).”

In the design and access statement submitted to the council, Mr Marsh-Feiley explains that in its current state the Cherry Tree had proved “uneconomical” and had been forced to close, but the sale of the houses would cover the capital cost of the refurbishment of the pub and the redevelopment of the outbuildings into the retail units could also provide a source of income through rent.

He said there had already been “keen interest” from local business in occupying the units and that it was possible the owners would eventually run the pub themselves or lease it out, possible to local cider-makers Aspall.

Eddy Alcock, the representative for Debenham on Suffolk County Council, said he was encouraged by the proposals but had reservations about the potential impact the additional businesses would have on current trade in the village.

He said: “Having it (the Cherry Tree) empty hasn’t been a good thing - it’s bad for the village and the people that live there.

“I welcome the development proposal but I have slight reservations about the viability of existing businesses where there might be a clash of interests.”