Butley: What does lease offer mean for the Oyster Inn’s future?

The Oyster Inn, Butley

The Oyster Inn, Butley - Credit: Archant

Advocates for the restoration of a Suffolk village pub have met the announcement of its availability on the market with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The Oyster Inn, in Butley, which has been closed for almost two years, has been advertised for lease by chartered surveyors firm Fleurets.

People living in the village, who have been campaigning for their local to reopen, initially welcomed the news.

They had previously expressed concern over the owner’s approved plans to create holiday lets on the site, as it would have involved the loss of bar space and the conversion of landlord’s accommodation.

The leasehold advertisement’s inclusion of “a self-contained two-bedroomed flat” was therefore taken as evidence the owner had abandoned those plans and would be seeking live-in tenants to run the pub as before, which the villagers supported.

However, the pub’s owner, Jon Dalton of the Bloomsbury Leisure Group, has since clarified that the top floor “will most likely be a holiday let, unless an operator comes along who makes a viable case for taking the space”.

He said the company planned to open the pub and holiday lets next year and would be carrying out refurbishments for the incoming tenant, who, according to Fleurets, would be “required to have readily available capital of £50,000 minimum”.

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Butley parish chairman David McGinity said he was “flabbergasted” by the advertisement.

Though he was pleased to see it on the market for a willing tenant, he questioned who would take it on without landlord accommodation, particularly when they were required to have £50,000 capital.

“I feel that we’ve been led down the garden path once more,” he said. “The logistics of the arrangement don’t strike me as viable. However, we look forward to welcoming anyone who might come forward with the answer.

“The village would welcome the pub to be reopened, particularly if that was in its original guise.”