Residents oppose blues bar plan

By Dave GooderhamA WAR of words is brewing in an historic town as residents continue their fight against the opening of a blues bar.Dusters could be opening its doors to the Bury St Edmunds public as a prime music and food venue in the next few months if councillors give it the go-ahead on Thursday.

By Dave Gooderham

A WAR of words is brewing in an historic town as residents continue their fight against the opening of a blues bar.

Dusters could be opening its doors to the Bury St Edmunds public as a prime music and food venue in the next few months if councillors give it the go-ahead on Thursday.

But residents in the town's Churchgate Street fear it would cause increased noise and disruption, and they have vowed to fight on, flooding St Edmundsbury Borough Council with letters of protest.


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James Langston, chairman of the Churchgate Area Association, said the 100-strong group was disappointed a report to the council's development and control committee had recommended approving the bar, planned by Sarah Maris.

"We think the bar is unsuitable as it will stay open until midnight in a predominantly residential area within metres of where people live. We already have noise and disruption from the nearby pubs and this is just going to add to that," he added.

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"Our area is going to be spoiled and our quality of life detrimentally altered. It will be very sad if it does go ahead. But we would very keen in a blues bar in Abbeygate Street or maybe on the new Cattle Market development as that would be an ideal place for it."

The area association was set up to combat a rise in anti-social behaviour in the area and Mr Langston believed these problems would increase if the blues bar was given planning permission.

But the plan has received a great deal of support with many believing a blues bar would breath fresh life into Bury St Edmunds' nightlife and the town's music scene.

The council's tourism manager, Justin Wallace, said: "A place like this would have enormous benefits to musicians, some who would not be allowed to play in local pubs because they are too young.

"From a tourism point of view, a blues bar would be another attraction for visitors and would add to our growing café society. I hope the personal concerns of local residents won't cloud the overall benefits when it comes to making a decision."

Bury St Edmunds town centre manager, Nick Martin, said the blues bar was consistent with the strategy of encouraging a café society and developing the evening economy.

He added many members of the town centre management group felt the plan utilised a gap in the market and would benefit from restricted membership and older clientele.

In a letter to the council, Nick Wells, organiser of the Bury St Edmunds Festival, said: "Bury St Edmunds has become an increasingly vibrant town over the last few years and Dusters would bring another strand to the vitality of the town.

"I have seen in my promotion of jazz and other similar events during the festival that there is a big demand for live music of this kind.

"It is vital live musicians get support and opportunities to play and Dusters would provide this as well as the opportunity for established professional musicians to perform."

The council also received a letter from the Bury St Edmunds Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who said the majority of its members supported the application, but Bury St Edmunds Town Council has objected on the grounds of traffic concerns and the location of the bar.

If approved, Dusters would replace the former Beanfeast restaurant and open from 5.30pm to midnight, Monday to Saturdays.

A report to the council's development control committee recommended approval with conditions including any noise from the bar being inaudible to neighbouring residential properties.

dave.gooderham@eadt.co.uk

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