Great Cornard: Battle is on to save historic Highbury Barns pub

AN urgent campaign to save an 18th-century Suffolk pub from the bulldozers is underway.

Residents of Great Cornard say they have a “matter of days” to protest against plans to demolish the Highbury Barn in Canhams Road. They are urging people to contact Babergh District Council before Septemeber 7, when the public consulation period for the proposal ends.

The pub’s owners, Punch Taverns, have applied to the local authority for a demolition order, and it is believed the site has already been earmarked for development.

But regular patrons Gavin and Ryan Fance, whose grandparents Dell and Jean Fance bought the pub in 1974, have started a petition and a Facebook page dedicated to preserving an “important” piece of their local history.

Gavin said: “The pub has always been well used, but in recent years, the kids’ play area has been removed, the current owners have stopped doing food and have allowed the pub to fall behind - we believe deliberately to improve their chances of getting it demolished.”

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Ryan added: “The Highbury Barn has been an important part of the local community for decades, providing a social meeting place for people who live in the area, and a venue for numerous charity fundraising nights. At the very least we want to save the building, but we have heard they could even put a supermarket on the site.”

Cornard parish council chairman Mick Cornish said they had informed Babergh of their objection to the demolition application, adding: “We hate to see the demise of any public house because too many have already gone.

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“Great Cornard has already lost the Queen’s Arms which is being pulled down to make way for flats.

“If the pub was replaced with commercial or industrial units then that would be better, but the current planning approach, particularly in Cornard, seems to be all about housing - and we already have enough homes here.”

A spokesman for Punch Taverns did not repsond to specific questions about the company’s application to demolish the pub. However, he said: “We are currently reviewing the Highbury Barn site and are considering all options.” The pub is now being run by a holding company.

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