Pub demolition plans generate 150-plus objections in a week
- Credit: Archant
More than 150 people have lodged objections in just a week over plans to demolish a much-loved pub to make way for a new convenience store and homes.
Punch Taverns says the White Horse at Old Felixstowe is no longer viable and would need £150,000 of investment for an incoming tenant to improve the premises and relaunch it.
But residents disagree and are furious at the prospect of losing the century-old building, which stands almost opposite a grade two-star listed church dating back to the 1300s.
In a letter to East Suffolk Council, Suffolk Preservation Society has asked for a heritage statement to be submitted concerning the Lutyens-style pub.
Director Fiona Cairns said: "The SPS considers that the White Horse Public House has the potential to be considered to be a non-designated heritage asset.
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"Therefore, we would strongly recommend that the applicant is required to submit the necessary heritage assessment and impact report. Furthermore, we recommend that you consult with your in-house conservation advisors for their expert opinion on the architectural and historic merits of the building.
"The SPS would like to be consulted on any further information or amendments that are submitted in support of this application."
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Nigel Palmer OBE, chairman of Fair Play for Felixstowe, which represents 275 residents, cites a number of reasons why the store and homes should be refused, including that there are no other licensed public houses in the Old Felixstowe area or dining facilities, and the local plan provides for enough new homes.
He said: "It is an unsuitable location for a convenience store. The planning application admits that this will lead to a seven-fold increase in traffic on a narrow road by a bend. There will also be an increase in deliveries to the store when compared with a public house."
In letters to East Suffolk Council, residents also point out that there is a well-used convenience store and parade of shops in the adjoining road.
One wrote: "I live just behind the White Horse pub and have done for 20 years. This is a beautiful building and we have used the pub for many years, it would be a real shame to destroy this piece of history and place where this community meets for social gatherings.
"If a shop was to be placed here it is off the beaten track and not on view from passing trade. This pub is a very important part of our community and to destroy this history would be criminal."
Punch Partnerships (PML) Limited is proposing to knock down the pub in Church Road and in its place build a convenience store with four two-bed apartments above, and two three-bed bungalows in the car park.
Punch admits that traffic in the quiet residential street will increase seven-fold - from 93 two-way trips to 726 two-way trips - if the store is built.
CPC Planning Consultants Limited said the majority of the trade at the pub was "drink focussed" relying on local regulars rather than food and people from outside the area.
It said: "The pub has recently found a declining trade, with a significant drop in revenue in 2019. Businesses such as the one run at White Horse have been unable to compete in the current market due to the lack of a food offering and declining wet sales resulting in the business as loss-making.
"Even with a substantial investment, in the region of circa £150,000, to improve the condition and presentation of the property, reflective of the existing choice in the immediate area, this would not attract any additional trade."