Holiday lodges in pipeline for award-winning village pub

The Weeping Willow has a huge glass fronted restaurant overlooking the garden and big open kitchen

The Weeping Willow has a huge glass fronted restaurant overlooking the garden and big open kitchen - Credit: Emma Cabielles Photography/Chestnut

Holiday lodge plans have been given the go-ahead for an award-winning pub in west Suffolk. 

The proposal by Chestnut Group for seven single-storey holiday lodges at the Weeping Willow in Barrow was approved by West Suffolk Council on Tuesday. 

The grade II listed Weeping Willow was named the most Instagrammable pub in Suffolk by You magazine in March 2021.

The award-winning Weeping Willow in Barrow has been named the 'most Instagrammable' pub in Suffolk

The award-winning Weeping Willow in Barrow has been named the 'most Instagrammable' pub in Suffolk - Credit: Emma Cabielles Photography/Chestnut

Philip Turner, founder and CEO of Chestnut Group, said the Weeping Willow was fast becoming one of the most popular pubs in their collection, with regular positive feedback from guests and numerous award nominations.

He said: "To support the demand last year we introduced more outdoor seating in our meadow and we now looking at developing seven lodges in our large garden at the back of the pub to accommodate guests that are travelling from further afield.

"In line with our ambition to be a more sustainable brand, we are planning a low carbon build with a focus on sustainable products and an environmentally-friendly design approach."

Philip Turner, owner of The Chestnut Group

Philip Turner, owner of The Chestnut Group - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

He added they hope to be able to announce a build date in the next few months.

The original plans were for nine lodges, but were amended to seven and reduced in scale.

Despite the changes, the parish council had concerns over loss of open space that would affect the appearance of the area and worries about the impact on wildlife.

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The objection said: "The parish council believes the historic character of the area could be compromised and has concern about additional noise and light pollution as well as increased vehicular activity given that parking is already a significant issue."

Proposed elevations of the holiday lodges

Proposed elevations of the holiday lodges - Credit: Dean Jay Pearce Architectural Design and Planning Ltd

But the officer report said the amended lodge plans were "considered appropriate in terms of form, scale and design for their rural context".

An ecology report had concluded there was no evidence of protected species nesting on the site.

The officer report said: "Low level lighting is proposed and with the minimal size of units and the fact that they don’t include any private outside areas, disturbance is expected to be minimal."

There would be an additional car park, with 12 spaces and an area for motorcycles.

The Weeping Willow's winter garden dining experience in 2020. The tipi is no longer there 

The Weeping Willow's winter garden dining experience in 2020. The tipi is no longer there - Credit: Emma Cabielles

The officer report said the extra parking was likely to be used within daytime hours, with occupants spending the evening locally.

Addressing residents' concerns about the reduction of the beer garden, the report said the meadow doesn’t contain tables and chairs to serve the pub whereas the outside terrace will be retained, as well as grassed areas to the side and behind the building. 

Commenting on the application, ward councillor Ian Holder said he welcomed the development of successful businesses in the villages.