Public meeting on future of Wickham Market’s The George pub organised

Fire Fighters work on damping down the fire at The George Pub in Wickham Market that caught fire in

Fire Fighters work on damping down the fire at The George Pub in Wickham Market that caught fire in 2013 - Credit: Archant

The future of one of Suffolk’s medieval pubs almost destroyed by fire in 2013 is to be discussed at a public meeting.

The George Inn, in High Street, Wickham Market, was ravaged by fire in April 2013 and has remained vacant since, despite being purchased by Montaque Investments from former owners Punch Taverns for £62,000 in 2014. The future of the pub, however, has never been made clear.

Determined to get answers for the community, and in a bid to see it restored as a pub and not turned into housing, Wickham Market Parish Council is organising a public meeting.

Among those invited will be representatives from Suffolk Coastal District Council, including planning and conservation officers, and Montaque Investments.

It follows concerns voiced by the community last year that the pub was being left to become so derelict that it would be rendered “unsaveable” and demolished to be turned into housing. This comes despite a protection order being placed onto it after an investigation carried out by Suffolk Coastal District Council revealed that parts of the building dated back to medieval times.

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Parish council chairman Richard Jenkinson said: “The aim of the meeting is to really get a feeling from the village as to what we want.

“We really would like an all singing all dancing village pub which retains the historical features and is a nice pub.

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“The problem is that The George is not ideally located for a pub and if you look at the financial projections when it was owned by Punch Taverns it would take an awful long time to get it [money] back

“Some of the listed aspects are still saveable. The question is do the Wickham Market parishioners want a pub or do they want it not to be an eyesore anymore because it’s an utter monster at the moment.

“Everybody I speak to says we want a pub because Wickham Market hasn’t got a pub.

“It would be very nice indeed if the whole village said we want a pub.”

Councillor Patrick Roper said: “Being in the drinks trade, residents do want a pub yes, but are they going to use the pub?

“[Some people say] ‘yes I use my local pub’ and go there on Christmas Eve and have half a shandy once a year. That’s got to be taken into consideration.

“Wanting and using a pub are different things.”

Councillor Emma Lawrence added: “There is a significant local drinking trade if you can get people in there.”

It was initially thought locally that The George would reopen as a pub with holiday accommodation. However, a planning application has not yet been submitted and work is yet to commence.

Mr Jenkinson added that rumours were circulating locally that Montaque Investments were trying to sell the site. Parish council clerk Jo Jones said that Montaque Investments had failed to respond to a single letter she had sent them.

The meeting is due to be held on the evening of Friday, April 22 at a venue to be confirmed.

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