Concerns grow for future of The Old Chequers Inn, in Friston after generous offer from anonymous businessman stalled

The Old Chequers pub, Friston.

The Old Chequers pub, Friston. - Credit: Archant

A sale to secure the future of a threatened village pub in east Suffolk is reported to have suffered unexplained delays.

People living in Friston say they are growing concerned for the future of The Old Chequers Inn after a “very generous” offer to retain the pub appeared to have stalled.

The offer, which was made last April by an anonymous businessman with links to the village, would have seen the pub re-opened and restored to its former glory more than a year after closing down.

It had been warmly welcomed at Friston’s annual parish meeting, amid growing concerns that the pub would otherwise be sold for housing and lost for good.

Friston’s acting parish chairman Alan Simpson said the deal even appeared at one stage to have been accepted by the pub’s owner.

But months later the purchase is still to be finalised and now another option, which is viewed less favourably in the village, has emerged from a different developer.

The new proposal, which Friston Parish Council will discuss at its meeting next week, would see part of the pub converted into holiday flats, leaving it with a smaller bar area and a greatly reduced kitchen space.

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Mr Simpson said he believed the plans would be harmful to the pub as without the kitchen space it would be unable to serve food to attract the visitors from outside the village needed to survive.

“There’s no way the council would want that to happen,” he added. “We’ve got very little left in Friston as it is and with this it would be like giving away the heart and soul of the village.”

The council would prefer the owner to accept the original offer, which would have left the pub unchanged.

However, Mr Simpson said it is more lucrative to develop the site with new housing, which is why he believes that offer has not been accepted.

The parish council had previously registered the pub as a “community asset” to help prevent its sale for housing. However that protection has since expired.

Neither the pub’s current owner, nor the developers behind the holiday accommodation proposals, responded to requests for comment.

The anonymous businessman who offered to buy the pub and retain its current use, said the offer still stood.

Fleurets, property specialists, said it was marketing the lease and would be happy to receive any offer.