Appeal to turn closed 'charismatic' pub into commercial unit rejected

The Angel

The Angel in Debenham - Credit: Archant

A planning application which would allow a disused Suffolk pub to become a commercial unit with more residential room has been rejected following an appeal.

Owners of The Angel Inn, in Debenham, which has been closed for nearly three years, originally put in an application in December 2020.

The application was seeking to change the use of The Angel from mixed drinking establishment to a mixed commercial use, with the removal and replacement of a rear flat roof extension.

The pub in the High Street was purchased by its current owners, Mr and Mrs Paine, in March 2011 at a "significant loss" to its previous landlord, Enterprise Inns.

The grade II-listed pub has been previously been marketed for sale.

Several bids were made to save the pub from closure, as it was listed as an asset of community value in 2014 - but a community takeover is yet to come to fruition.

The planning inspector said the Angel Inn has sufficient potential as a public house to attract the initial interest of various interested potential operators.

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Inspector William Cooper did acknowledge the proposal would bring some new life to the empty building and would bring additional retail or office space on the High Street.

The proposal would also contribute to local housing supply in the form of enlarged residential accommodation, including an increase from three to four bedrooms.

He said: "Accordingly, I attach moderate weight to the benefits of the proposal, and find that its public benefits do not outweigh the great weight given to the conservation of designated heritage assets and the less than substantial harm to their significance which I have identified.

"I therefore conclude that the proposal would fail to preserve the special historic interest of the Grade II listed building, and the character and appearance of the community asset."

"The Angel Inn is likely to require investment and dedication to bring it back into operation as a pub.

"Nevertheless, judging by the potential identified above, and the community passion for it to remain as a pub, I find that it would be premature and unjustified to ‘call time’ on the Angel Inn’s long history as a charismatic public house at the heart of this large, growing and relatively prosperous historic Suffolk village, through the appeal proposal."