Concerns voiced over council pub plan for historic corn exchange

AN historic building in the heart of Bury St Edmunds could be turned into pub - if coucil-led plans get off the ground.

Concerns have been voiced about St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s bid to win planning permission to turn the 150-year-old Corn Exchange building into a pub.

The council has submitted plans to turn the upper floor of the building into a “drinking establishment” in order to attract greater interest in the building when it is eventually put up for sale.

The council is selling the building because it has been replaced by the Apex venue in the former Cattle Market site.

Abbeygate ward councillors Paul Farmer and Richard Rout say they are concerned local residents will bear the brunt of any increase in noise or anti-social behaviour if the pub scheme is approved.

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In a joint statement, the councillors said: “Our immediate concern is obviously for the residents in the vicinity whom we represent. Many of them have long endured anti-social behaviour fuelled by alcohol served at ever later hours.

“However, we recognise that St Edmundsbury needs to find a commercial use for this building once the Apex is up and running, and we are relieved that this application is not for a nightclub. We also realise that many people will welcome another entertainment choice - but none of this should be at residents’ expense.

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“If planning permission is granted, and a licence is sought by a potential tenant, then we shall be doing our utmost to ensure that comprehensive measures are in place to guarantee absolutely no increase in disturbance to local residents.”

A council spokeswoman said: Here is the statement you requested: “Ever since we started planning The Apex we have made it very clear that the first floor of the Corn Exchange would be surplus to our needs and so we would be looking for an alternative use.

“As a council we have a responsibility to taxpayers to make sure we make the best use of our assets, especially in the current economic climate.

“We are in the process of marketing the Corn Exchange and part of that process is to make it a more valuable asset, which is why we are applying for planning permission for the first floor change of use from public hall, with an existing bar, to drinking establishment.

“As part of the planning process there is an opportunity for people to comment on this suggested change. If the application is successful, the incoming tenant would have to apply for and get the appropriate licence.”

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