Development threat to village pub

VILLAGERS have expressed worry that the future of their only pub could be under threat after plans were unveiled to build houses on the former beer garden.

Richard Smith

VILLAGERS have expressed worry that the future of their only pub could be under threat after plans were unveiled to build houses on the former beer garden.

Residents in Charsfield, near Woodbridge, say they are alarmed by the plans to build two houses at the rear of the Three Horseshoes pub and they will be objecting to Suffolk Coastal District Council.

The pub is for sale and the plans have been submitted by the owner, Edward Bolton, a Woodbridge hairdresser, who has been unavailable for comment. The pub is trading as normal.

In 1997 proposals to build one house in the car park were rejected by planners, and permission was also refused to convert the pub into a house.

The pub, a former EADT Pub of the Year, was closed and boarded up until Mr Bolton bought it from Pubmaster in 1998.

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Ashton Design planning consultants, acting on Mr Bolton's behalf, have told the district council the land is not used as a pub garden and it is under-used.

A public meeting held in Charsfield village hall was attended by more than 40 people and none of them showed any support for the plans.

Ed Winkworth, parish council chairman, told the meeting: “Most people are giving one main reason and that is if the pub grounds go then there is a possibility of a closure of the pub itself. That certainly is a possibility although I am not saying that will happen.”

Martin Tilbury, pub landlord, said: “The pub ticks along, we are not getting rich and it has been like that for some time. What the pub needs for future progression is additional business such as letting rooms but we are not in a position to do this.”

The size of the pub garden has been reduced in recent years and Mr Tilbury said that the Three Horseshoes had lost several family parties as a result.

One villager warned: “Most of the village pubs are hanging on a thread. They have been under threat from drink driving and the smoking ban and something like removing a beer garden from a village pub could be the little bit that puts them over the edge.”

A mother with children at the village primary school said extra traffic generated by the development could make the road more dangerous and she added: “Part of the reason that we chose to live in Charsfield was that it does have a village pub and that is a nice thing to have in a village.”

The parish council has written to the district council saying it does not approve of “backfilling” in the village and it is worried about increased dangers on a busy road used as a short cut by drivers.

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