Gt Cornard: Residents push to save 18th century pub

A CAMPAIGN to save an historic Suffolk pub from the bulldozers has stepped up a gear after its owners filed an application to build a supermarket on the site.

In May, residents of Great Cornard protested against plans to demolish the 18th Century Highbury Barn in Canhams Road when the pub’s owners, Punch Taverns, applied to Babergh District Council for a demolition order.

But it has just emerged that the pub chain has submitted a further application to the district authority to build a retail unit at the site. Although it has not yet been confirmed, it is understood that the Co-op group has expressed an interest in the project.

The pub is currently being run by a holding company. In its application to Babergh, Punch Taverns states that it has taken the decision to close and demolish the premises as it “no longer offers a viable trading opportunity”. They also state the retail development would provide around 35 full and part-time jobs which would all be “filled locally”.

But regular patron Gavin Fance, who started a campaign dedicated to preserving the pub and has just initiated a new petition to fight the latest application, said: “In the statement Punch Taverns have made in their application, I don’t think they have done their research, because it says the pub is not needed as there are around 30 other pubs in the area. That simply isn’t true as some of the ones they have listed have been closed for years.”

The pub was once owned by Mr Fance’s grandparents Dell and Jean Fance, who bought it in 1974. He believes there is sufficient support for the business to continue to operate as a pub, with the right buyer. He added: “We have heard that there have been offers from prospective buyers who want to run it as a pub but Punch Taverns do not want to know because they can get more money for the site if they sell if for development.

“I feel a lot of what they have said in the application is insulting to local people and I am quite angry to think they can do this without consulting the people who live in Great Cornard. They should give it up and sell it so someone else can have a chance to make it work.”Gt Cornard Parish Council has objected to the proposal because of possible access and traffic issues.

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The consultation period for the new plan closes on November 8 and a decision is expected by the end of the month. To get involved with the protest, call Gavin on 07719 790601.