Council rejects blues bar plan

By Liz HearnshawA MUSICIAN has vowed to continue her fight to open a blues bar in a town after councillors rejected her proposal during a heated meeting.

By Liz Hearnshaw

A MUSICIAN has vowed to continue her fight to open a blues bar in a town after councillors rejected her proposal during a heated meeting.

Objectors booed and jeered people speaking in support of the plan, to open the Dusters bar in Churchgate Street in Bury St Edmunds, as councillors voted yesterday to throw out the project.

But after the meeting of St Edmundsbury Borough Council's planning committee, Sarah Maris, who masterminded the idea following the death of her husband Roger, spoke of her determination to fight on.

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“I am very disappointed in this decision and we will now concentrate on our appeal and the fight will continue,” she said.

“I object to the criticism that we are situated in the wrong location as the majority of properties in that part of the street is commercial.

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“It is also wrong to say that we would have caused noise or rowdiness and we would have had a reputable doorman who would have made the street a safer place.

“It did seem the council was impressed with our argument, but we obviously need to impress them even more. We need more support, but watch this space.”

Musician Simon Wallace said the venture would have attracted talent from far and wide - and voiced his disappointment at the refusal of planning permission.

“I don't know how people expect Bury to be a cosmopolitan, vibrant town when a project like this, which was a great idea to bring talent to the area, is turned down,” he added.

“If you ask young people what they think of Bury, they say it is a small market town with a market town mentality, and the refusal of permission for this project goes to prove that theory is absolutely right.

“I think the people who are against it would have enjoyed some of the artists the bar would have attracted. This decision shows a local yokel mentality. It is total ignorance and stubbornness.”

During the meeting, Elizabeth Godfrey, a committee member on the Churchgate Area Association, said residents' concerns related to parking, noise from customers and the proposed venture's kitchens.

She also highlighted the location of the blues bar, in a conservation area close to the town's cathedral, as a worry.

Speaking after the decision to reject the scheme, Mrs Godfrey expressed sympathy for Mrs Maris, saying members of the residents' association would welcome the development - but not neighbouring their own homes.

“I do feel sympathy for Mrs Maris, as she has worked hard on this project. I do hope she finds somewhere else for the project which is more suitable, but obviously we are relieved,” she said.

“I do not think there are many people who disagreed with the idea and I am sure the blues bar would be a very nice thing for Bury to have, but not in the middle of a residential area like Churchgate Street.”

Mrs Godrey added: “We already have an awful lot of noise at night from nearby pubs, which echoes through the old buildings along the road.

“Another great worry was the closing time proposed by Mrs Maris as, in our street, we like to be able to go to sleep when the pubs have emptied, not any later.

“Bury is a delightful place to live and we are lucky to live in the medieval core. All the residents want is to sleep in peace.”

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