Plans to bring pub 'back to its best' take step forward

The Oak Pub Stowmarket

The Oak has been closed since March 2020, but the future looks a lot brighter for the town centre pub. - Credit: Google Maps

Plans for "significant" refurbishment work at The Oak pub, in Stowmarket, have been given the green light by Mid Suffolk District Council.

The pub, located on the high street, has been closed since March 2020 but the future seems to be more positive, with these plans centering around outside timber pods and the replacement of old fencing. Further internal redecorating is also planned. 

This represents a step closer to the re-opening of the pub, which has been offered the new lease of life following investment from Greene King.

The plans were submitted by Greene King, which owns the pub, and planning documents for the project say: "The premises have been closed since pre-pandemic and our client is looking at investing in the premises and carrying out a refurbishment of the interior and exterior to bring the pub back into full use for the local community.

"Given the recent demand for more external covers, the sustainability of pubs is dependent upon their ability to provide welcoming external covers. These proposals are crucial for the business to continue to thrive."

The building itself is grade II listed, but planning documents say the "proposals have taken into account the type and structure of the existing building and the surrounding properties" and "feel that the proposals have no undue effect to the site or the area".

A spokesperson for The Oak said: "We hope to go ahead with a significant investment in The Oak to bring it back to its best – both on the inside and outside.”

Planning officers said in their report that "the proposed pods have been evaluated against material planning considerations and the principles of sustainable development, underpinned by local development plan policies and the provisions of the NPPF (national planning policy framework). The proposal is wholly acceptable."

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One condition of the granting of the refurbishment works is that "external amplified music" in the outside seating area will have to be stopped at 9pm from Monday to Sunday, "in the interests of nearby residential amenity".

The pub, once operational, has an estimated turnover potential of just over half a million pounds, according to Greene King.