Row over boarding-up of village pub
By David GreenA MULTI-MILLION-POUND leisure company is being threatened with enforcement action following creation of an “inner-city” scene in the heart of a picture-postcard village.
By David Green
A MULTI-MILLION-POUND leisure company is being threatened with enforcement action following creation of an “inner-city” scene in the heart of a picture-postcard village.
Contractors have upset villagers and a council by screwing metal sheets across the doors and windows of the Royal Oak pub, a grade II listed building in Laxfield.
Workers moved in to put up the metal sheets as a security measure following the departure of the pub's last tenants.
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Villagers claimed the building, owned by Enterprise Inns of Solihull, near Birmingham, had been left in a state more akin to a riot-prone inner city or “downtown Belfast at the height of the troubles”.
Mid Suffolk District said listed building consent should have been sought for any works to the pub, which stands at the centre of the village, near the centuries-old church and medieval guildhall.
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Council officials were called to the pub on Thursday by the parish council chairman, Tony Oakes, who hoped they would be able to halt the work.
But an official did not arrive until the work was completed, although he was able to speak to the foreman of the contractors.
Philip Isbell, principle planning officer for the council, said although it was thought no irreparable damage had been caused, the visual appearance of the boarded-up pub was “unacceptable” and of “great concern”.
He said: “We are taking robust action and warning the company that unless it takes action we will serve formal enforcement notice requiring the removal of the metal sheets.”
Under the law, the order would have to be complied with within 28 days - but villagers were worried any delay would mean the “eyesore” scene would remain during several community events scheduled for this month.
Enterprise Inns, which controls 9,000 pubs in the UK, declined to comment yesterday.
It is thought that the boarding-up work was the result of a standard security response when one of its pubs was likely to stand empty for any length of time.