Bury St Edmunds: Pub chain applies to extend Corn Exchange opening hours
MOVES by a national pub chain to extend opening hours granted for an historic building just six weeks ago, have sparked dismay among campaigners.
JD Wetherspoon was granted permission by St Edmundsbury Borough Council to turn the Corn Exchange in Bury St Edmunds into a pub on May 4.
Despite asking to open until 1am on Friday and Saturday, the chain saw its opening hours curtailed to 11pm on Sunday to Thursdays and midnight on Friday and Saturday after campaigners feared the hours would lead to anti-social behaviour in the surrounding area.
But just 10 weeks after planning permission was granted, JD Wetherspoon has applied to extend its hours until midnight on Sunday to Thursdays and 1am on Friday and Saturday.
Alan Jary, chairman of the Bury Society which objected to the original hours, said he was planning to oppose the extension.
“I’m not in the least surprised they have applied to extend their hours,” Mr Jary said. “It was to be expected.
“They will persevere until they get the hours they wanted.”
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Controversy has surrounded the chain’s bid to transform Bury’s historic Corn Exchange, built in 1861, into a public house and restaurant.
Objectors raised concerns of anti-social behaviour as a result of large number of people leaving the venue at the same time, as well as issues surrounding the planned smoking area outside the pub.
Paul Farmer, St Edmundsbury Borough councillor for Abbeygate ward, campaigned to have the pub-giant’s hours trimmed to midnight at the original hearing.
“I am very disappointed that the company won’t accept the decision of the planning authority made less than three months ago,” he said.
“I could understand it better if they had traded for a year on the currently approved hours without any problems, but simply repeating their original request so soon seems a cynical attempt to avoid the reality of sensible closing times.”
In the application to extend its opening hours, JD Wetherspoon claims the extra hour would not affect the pub’s environment or add to the levels of activity.
“Residents living in town centres, whilst having access to better facilities, must also expect greater levels of evening activity and noise,” the report reads.
A spokesman for the firm said: “Wetherspoons has more than 800 pubs across the UK.
“We feel these hours are in line with the majority of our pubs and experience tells us people now look to enjoy themselves later than might have been imagined a number of years ago.”