FURIOUS publicans have joined forces against plans to build a £1.2million town centre “super pub” which they claim would force them out of business.Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has lodged ambitious plans with Babergh District Council to build a new state-of-the-art pub and eatery in North Street, Sudbury.
FURIOUS publicans have joined forces against plans to build a £1.2million town centre “super pub” which they claim would force them out of business.
Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has lodged ambitious plans with Babergh District Council to build a new state-of-the-art pub and eatery in North Street, Sudbury.
It wants to convert the existing Co-operative department store into one of its new Lloyds No.1 outlets.
But the news has angered local publicans who said they could not compete with the huge complex or low-price offers in which JD Wetherspoon specialise.
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They are now arranging a meeting involving all town publicans and other affected businesses to discuss ways of fighting the plans.
Sudbury county councillor Nick Irwin, who owns the Waggon and Horses pub in the town, said: “I just feel despair at hearing these plans. It is the worst possible thing that could happen to Sudbury.
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“Sudbury is full of lovely, historic pubs that offer a lot of choice, but this new super pub will swallow-up all the trade and take away the choice and charm of the pubs that we have already got.
“If the new pub was to take just 30% of my trade, I would be forced to close down and I am sure many other pubs would be in the same situation. It would destroy the vitality of the town.”
Initial plans include transforming the ground floor of the department store into the Lloyds No. 1 outlet, which will provide a one-stop pub, restaurant and café.
The new outlets are of similar concept to the traditional Wetherspoon pubs, but allow for music and other services, such as televised sporting occasions, to be screened. The plans also include building four-two bedroom flats above the drinking establishment.
Duncan Tuhey, who runs the town's Prince of Wales pub, said: “This would just be totally unfair. We just can't compete with the prices or the whole Wetherspoon concept.
“They can sell beer at more or less the same price at which I have to buy it.”
One of the most concerned publicans is Clare Pearce, who runs the North Street Tavern, which is next door to where the new complex would be built.
“I am really worried about the future now, we just cannot compete on a level playing field as something like this,” she said.
“I think the local authority should act to protect the existing businesses in the town and throw these plans out.”
A spokesman for JD Wetherspoon said: “We are hoping to get permission to open a Lloyds No 1 outlet in Sudbury. The premises would be very similar to our traditional Wetherspoon pubs, but aimed at a slightly younger customer base.
“As with all our outlets, our prices would be competitive and we believe it would be very popular in the town and other another choice for customers.
“In total, there would be a £1.2m investment in the development, which would create around another 40 jobs. If we get planning permission we usually aim to open within six months.”
Mike Faulkner, of the Ipswich and Norwich Co-operative Society, confirmed it was considering an offer for the premises made by JD Wetherspoon.
“Trading has been difficult for some time at the store and has been further threatened by large scale out-of-town developments,” he said.
“The offer from Wetherspoon is not an opportunity we can overlook.”
The matter should go before Babergh district councillors in the near future.