Pub closure fears in Suffolk village

VILLAGERS fear a pub which has now been shut for nine months may never re-open.

David Green

VILLAGERS fear a pub which has now been shut for nine months may never re-open.

The White Hart - one of three pubs at Stradbroke - closed at the end of last summer when the licensee suddenly departed.

Owner, Punch Taverns, has been trying to re-let the lease ever since but so far there have been no takers.

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Now villagers fear there may be a further attempt to obtain permission to convert the pub for residential use and build homes on its extensive gardens.

The first attempt, made by a previous owner, failed when villagers launched a strong campaign, culminating in a refusal by Mid Suffolk District Council to grant planning permission.

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However, with two other pubs in a village of only a few hundred people, some people believe an economic future for three pubs may be unsustainable.

Parish council chairman, Annie Kerr, said yesterday there were still hopes that the pub would re-open.

“However, we've got to be realistic and it may be that new landlords cannot be found. It will depend on the terms being offered for the lease,” she said.

Members of a successful bowls club attached to the White Hart have been continuing with their fixtures during the pub's closure.

“It is a thriving club and everyone will fight to keep it open, not only the club members but the wider community,” one member said yesterday.

A spokeswoman for Punch Taverns said: “Our priority is to get the White Hart, Stradbroke, open for trade as soon as possible.

“We are committed to building a successful future for this pub and currently in the process of recruiting a high calibre licensee.

“If any readers are interested in finding more about this opportunity, they can come along to an open day on June 4 at The Magpie, on the A140 Norwich Road at Little Stonham or they can ring our recruitment team on 0844 848 3279 for further details.”

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