Anger at pub plan for historic Corn Exchange

HERITAGE campaigners have branded a council's plans to turn an historic town centre building into a watering hole as “the last straw”.

HERITAGE campaigners have branded a council's plans to turn an historic town centre building into a watering hole as “the last straw”.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council claims it is seeking the best deal for taxpayers by applying for planning permission to turn the 150-year-old Corn Exchange in Bury St Edmunds into a pub.

The council hopes that by marketing the building as a “drinking establishment” it will attract greater interest in the building when it is leased out.

But the Bury St Edmunds Society claims the application is a “lost opportunity” and criticised the idea of creating another pub in the town centre.


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Society chairman Sarah Green said: “This really is the last straw and I am shocked at the news. This fine building deserves a much better use than this and we certainly do not need further drinking establishments in the centre of town. It is a lost opportunity and a very poor way out of finding a role for our important and historic Corn Exchange.

“Where is the council's vision? And what happened to the excellent idea put forward of developing a business centre? It is extremely disappointing.”

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Mrs Green's concerns have been echoed by Abbeygate ward councillors Richard Rout and Paul Farmer, who, in a joint statement released last week, said: “Our immediate concern is obviously for the residents in the vicinity whom we represent.

“Many of them have long endured anti-social behaviour fuelled by alcohol served at ever later hours.

“However, we recognise that St Edmundsbury needs to find a commercial use for this building once the Apex is up and running, and we are relieved that this application is not for a nightclub.”

A spokeswoman for the council said: “Ever since we started planning The Apex we have made it very clear that the first floor of the Corn Exchange would be surplus to our needs and so we would be looking for an alternative use.

“As a council we have a responsibility to taxpayers to make sure we make the best use of our assets, especially in the current economic climate.

“We are in the process of marketing the Corn Exchange and part of that process is to make it a more valuable asset.”

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