Grade II listed hotel and pub near Hadleigh to expand into wedding venue
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A hotel that has Grade II listed status will expand into a wedding venue with a wellness centre.
By building a new reception, banquet hall, additional bedrooms, car park, and garden, the Marquis in Layham is set to turn into a host for weddings.
Owner of the 17th Century hotel and pub Steven O'Leary hopes it will bring jobs for young people to local towns like Hadleigh and help keep a sustainable pub in Layham.
Mr O'Leary said during a Babergh District Council planning committee meeting yesterday, which approved the plans with conditions, that the Marquis was empty for around six years before he purchased it.
He claimed as it is on the hills of the Brett Valley, the hotel gets a lot of wedding enquiries. But without improvements, he worried that it would be "spoiled" for his regulars by accepting this type of trade.
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He added: "We needed to have some other reasons why people outside the area would come and stay here."
But Layham Parish Council and local residents were hoping for the district council to reject the plans.
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Parish councillor John Curran, who is chairman of Layham, claimed that the "larger" improved building would block the skyline and be a "detriment" to the village.
And he said weddings would cause noise, parking and light pollution issues for residents, as well as speeding on the B1070.
Mr Curran said: "50 of the 161 public comments have been from residents objecting to the proposal with only three in support of it.
"We agree with our residents it would make Layham a less desirable place to live."
He added that the Marquis is a "benefit" for the village at the moment and residents were happy with it as it is.
Richard Cranfield, another objector, argued that the Marquis "has lost well over £1 million" and "only survives" due to the shareholder help.
"It's not trading profitable and I think this is doubling down," he said.
The Marquis owner Mr O'Leary said he would not propose an extension of "well over a £1 million" if it was not sustainable and added the hotel was in profit now.
He also said the work would create 45 new full and part-time jobs for the local area, bringing the total number of staff to 55 full-time and 45 part-time positions.