A campaign has been launched to save a Suffolk village pub that has stood empty for the last four years.

The Angel pub in Debenham, near Stowmarket, has now been put up for sale years after closing in April 2019

The Save the Angel campaign group set up a survey this year asking residents for their views on what the building should become.

The survey had 313 responses from 297 households, with 96 per cent of respondents supporting the pub being saved for community use.

The pub was registered an asset of community value in 2014, meaning it cannot be sold without the community group being given a set period of time to put together a realistic bid in order to buy it themselves.

When the Save the Angel group expressed an interest, a six-month moratorium period was triggered, giving the group time to pull together a bid and enter negotiations with the owner, should they wish.

The community group made intentions to bid on the site in 2017 and in 2019, which were not followed by any notable fundraising efforts or any offers to buy the site, according to planning documents.

The current moratorium period ends next month.

Debenham resident and business owner Peter Warren said: "This is the beating heart of the village. We put on successful events there, open mic nights, music days. Everybody loved them.

East Anglian Daily Times: The Angel pub in DebenhamThe Angel pub in Debenham (Image: Phil Morley)

"There's overwhelming support in the village for the continuation for this pub. It is considered to be an essential part of the village and necessary to support the expansion of the village.

"Debenham is now expanding within the remit of the village plan, building by the school and by the leisure centre and we need this pub as it stands to redevelop the village as the centre.

"More and more people are working from home. We need local services to support this. It is a public amenity.

"This village used to have four pubs. Now there's only one."

The earliest record of the historic Grade II listed building is in a 1621 survey.

A spokesperson for Mid Suffolk District Council said: “We are keen to work with local communities to try to help to preserve land or buildings that are important to them. 

"By listing something as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ a group can ensure that if it comes onto the market, they will have chance to pull together funding in order to be in a position to bid for it themselves, but ultimately the decision over the sale of a building still rests with its owner.”