Lavenham: Historic Suffolk building could become cafe-bar

ONE of Suffolk’s most historic buildings could be transformed into a caf�-bar.

Plans have been submitted to Babergh District Council to turn a medieval house in Lady Street, Lavenham, into a business serving alcohol, coffees and light meals.

The Grade 1 Listed property, which is owned by former Ipswich Town director Holly Bellingham-Turner and her husband, is said to be of similar historical importance as the National Trust’s Guildhall in the Market Square.

Rod Benson and Jo Knight, who are behind the plans and will be licensees, said they hope to bring the 15th Century building – known as the Tudor shops – back into public use and create a “real hub for the community”.

The couple, of Water Street, Lavenham, said they also want to give locals another place to drink following Marco Pierre White’s transformation of The Angel into a gastro pub.

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Mr Benson, 44, said: “There has already been a lot of local interest in what we’re doing. We have really appreciated how excited people are about somewhere like this opening in the village.

“Lavenham is crying out for somewhere that is middle ground. We’ve got pubs and great restaurants, but there is nothing in between.”

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Mr Benson added: “We’re very keen to create somewhere that is going to be the hub of the community. We want to have an area at the back that can host clubs and functions. We want to be everything that the village needs.”

The couple, who intend to move in above the caf�-bar if planning permission is granted, said they are also excited by the possibility of opening up “a beautiful building” for the public to see.

According to planning documents the property has been owned by the Bellingham-Turners for the past 12 years and has previously been used as a holiday home.

Ms Knight, 38, said they realised early on how sensitive they would have to be in converting the building, which is described as “one of the most important buildings within Lavenham.”

“We visited with the listed building officer and as we walked in he turned round and said ‘I hope you realise that apart from the Guildhall and the church this is the most historically important building in Lavenham,’” she said.

Public consultation on the application, which will see a change of use to the ground floor and part of the first floor, is open until October 4.

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