Work begins to create outside space for 100 people at Stowmarket pub

A CGI of what the Walnut pub in Stowmarket will look like after its revamp.

A CGI of what the Walnut pub in Stowmarket will look like after its revamp. - Credit: Admiral Tavern

A popular Stowmarket pub is being revamped to create an "outside room" for up to 100 people following the continued impact of coronavirus.  

Ivan and Helen Sheldrake took over The Walnut pub in Violet Hill Road more than two years ago, but have been hampered by lockdown restrictions. 

When they arrived, Mr Sheldrake said the beer garden had just two picnic benches in it, with space for roughly 12 people. 

Helen and Ivan Sheldrake, whose Stowmarket wet-led pub won't be able to open under tier 2 Picture: HELEN SHELDRAKE

Ivan and Helen Sheldrake, licensees of The Walnut pub in Stowmarket. - Credit: Archant

The courtyard was previously used for storing barrels and bins, but the couple decided to put some more tables outside when we came out of the first lockdown.

But Mr Sheldrake said this was not enough to meet the demand, so they submitted a planning application to install some permanent outside structures. 

"What we really want in this day and age is a bit of an outside room," he explained.

"We are completely repaving the floors, adding two pergolas - one fairly small and one slightly larger with a permanent roof - and brand-new fencing.

"There will also be some new cladding on the walls to give it a nice rustic feel."

The exterior of The Walnut pub in Stowmarket.

The exterior of The Walnut pub in Stowmarket. - Credit: Admiral Tavern

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Once complete, the outside space will be able to cater for around 100 people — a huge improvement on the 12 when they first arrived in 2019.

The work began earlier this week, and the first stage looks set to be complete by next Friday, with further renovations taking place to revamp another section of the garden. 

Mr Sheldrake said the revamp will "really change the pub", adding that anything that can be painted, will. 

"It's a lovely space and we really think that things will permanently change," he said.

"If the weather is good enough for people to be outside people are going to want to be outside probably for good, but certainly this year."

The plans, which were granted by planning officers at Mid Suffolk Council, were positively received by the public, with no objections or complaints lodged. 

Mr Sheldrake said people have been really positive about the revamp, which he described as "an outside room". 

They also plan to take on more staff once the refurb is complete to cater for its increased capacity.