Wickham Market: Fire-damaged George pub’s sale raises hope for its future
- Credit: Archant
Hopes are growing for the future of a historic Suffolk pub – 18 months after it was devastated by fire.
The George Inn in Wickham Market has been bought under auction by new developers, who are expected to submit plans for its refurbishment in the coming weeks.
Villagers, who feared the previous owners, Punch Taverns, may have planned to sell their only pub for housing, have welcomed the progress.
Wickham Market Town Team chairman Colin Owens said a new pub was of “great importance” for the village.
“Wickham Market as a growing village needs the pub as a social meeting place,” he added. “We look forward to the new owners establishing their plans and making the most of this opportunity to reinstate The George as a more appropriate pub for the community.”
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The building was subjected to a protection order preventing its demolition and insisting it is kept as a pub after an investigation earlier this year revealed parts of it dated back to the medieval period.
Parish clerk Jo Jones said the council was keen for an application to be submitted promptly, while the protection order remained in place.
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“We just hope the new owner doesn’t plan to sit on it and then put in an application for change of use further down the line,” she said.
The new buyer, who paid £62,000 for the site – £12,000 more than the guide price – is thought to have plans to develop holiday accommodation at the back of the pub.
Wickham Market’s district councillor Bryan Hall, who attended the auction, said he believed the proposal would be accepted by most people living in the village as a means to make the business more viable.
“The only question mark is over how soon it might be before it starts,” he added.
The pub was devastated by fire in March 2013 and has been closed ever since. Its description by Goldings Auctions referred to it as “an opportunity for a publican or experienced professional to work on a unique redevelopment project”.
The East Anglian Daily Times requested details of the new owners from the auctioneers, but was not provided them.