Beloved Crown Inn at Brundish faces uncertain future as council considers conversion plans

Locals say The Crown Inn in Brundish is at the heart of the village Picture: SU ANDERSON

Locals say The Crown Inn in Brundish is at the heart of the village Picture: SU ANDERSON

Planners are set to approve the closure of a historic Suffolk pub – despite overwhelming opposition.

The Crown Inn in Brundish has been pulling pints for over 300 years, and now it could be converted into housing – if planners at Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Council (BMSDC) agree on Wednesday, June 6.

This is despite the fact that the motion has been strongly opposed by councils in both Brundish and nearby Wilby – with members arguing that the pub would be a devastating loss to the community.

In particular, the parish councils point out that The Crown has been a vital source of income for young people in the area – providing the only opportunities for part time work in the village.

Both councils further argue that there is no proper valuation of the business and premises, as required by council rules. While the advertised price is “offers in the region of £325,000” the Brundish Council argues that this does not necessarily represent the “true communal value” of the pub.

Wilby Parish Council unaninmously opposed the move – citing “clear public opposition” to the change, evident by testimonies from 18 current or former regulars at the pub.

BMSDC’s economic development officer also objected to the change of use, arguing that the pub offers a “valuable source of employment to local people”, and enhances the village as a destination for visitors.

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The officer said: “Whilst extremely regrettable that the current owners have been unable to achieve the level of success they would expect, the agents marketing states that the ‘established business has consistently good levels of turnover,’ which would suggest that there is potential for an improved business model.”

A total of 49 representations were received prior to the council’s recommendation – with interested parties arguing that “The Crown Public House has always been the pub of the village”, “more could be done to make the pub a thriving business,” and “it is clearly in the interests of the owners to portray an economical disaster”.

However Jonathan Reubin, an independent surveyor employed by the council to inspect the pub’s finances, said: “In my opinion if these experienced current owners cannot make this pub location work, then probably nobody can.

“The problem is the very nature of it being in a small village which has no heart and within easy reach of at least five other public houses located in more compact attractive villages.

“Nationally this situation is not uncommon and whilst one can sympathise with the community of any village faced with the loss of its public house it has to be stated in each case it is a matter of use it or lose it, so any member of the community that buys his or her alcoholic or even soft drinks at discounted supermarket prices to consume at home and only use their local occasionally on a high day or holiday have only themselves to blame for its loss.”

Despite overwhelming opposition, council officers recommended the change for approval at Wednesday’s meeting, stating: “the proposed use is considered to be the most viable use for the building”.

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