Residents fight pub conversion plan

By Richard SmithESTATE agents estimate more than £1million will be wiped off the value of village properties if a long-established pub closes.Residents in Blaxhall, near Woodbridge, are worried if they lose their pub, they will be left with just two community facilities - the village hall and the church.

By Richard Smith

ESTATE agents estimate more than £1million will be wiped off the value of village properties if a long-established pub closes.

Residents in Blaxhall, near Woodbridge, are worried if they lose their pub, they will be left with just two community facilities - the village hall and the church.

The hall was packed last night when more than one-third of the villagers voiced their anger at an extraordinary parish council meeting about the plan to turn half of The Ship pub into tourist accommodation.


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They warned it could be the “thin end of the edge” to be followed by another application to convert the remainder of the freehouse pub and then build on the car park.

A petition was circulated last year when villagers were concerned Hys Olink and Linda Wilson, who bought The Ship in 2001, might apply to turn the 18th Century listed building into a home.

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There was further anger when the opening hours were reduced. The owners did not attend last night's meeting and the pub is currently closed for maintenance.

Their planning application involves a proposal to reduce the bar to 14ft by 13ft, install a toilet for the disabled and convert part of the pub into a self-contained holiday unit to meet the increasing demand for self-catering. The pub already has chalets for tourists.

Blaxhall Parish Council is objecting to the partial closure proposal and residents have mounted a campaign to persuade Suffolk Coastal District Council to refuse permission.

Graham Bowles, a parish councillor, said: “The proposed changes would be seriously detrimental and a bar of 14ft by 13ft is small by living room standards, let alone a pub.

“A further letting room would further reduce the licensee's need to make a living out of the pub.”

Parish council chairman, Philip Dunnett, added: “I think we have a great history to try to keep hold of, and a future.”

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

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