Southwold: 19th century building could be demolished

Uncertainty over fate of historic building

THE future of an historic building in Southwold hangs in the balance after members of the town council failed to reach a decision on whether to back or oppose new housing plans for the town.

An application has been submitted to Waveney District Council to demolish the former Casa Mia piano bar on Ferry Road – also known as The Old Dutch Barn – to create two three-bedroom houses and a new caf�.

But artist Emily Whalley, who lives next to the property, had called on English Heritage to give it listed status to safeguard its important links to the Second World War, the fishing industry and a number of celebrities.

However, members of Southwold Town council’s planning and development committee have been unable to reach a unanimous decision on the proposals.

Because of the deadlock the deputy mayor of Southwold, John Windell, has said the district council’s development control committee would have to make the final decision on the plans without a clear view from the town council.

It is believed the property could date back to 1840, and it was once used by workers making the distinctive dark red sails for wherry boats.

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It was later acquired by the British military and was used throughout the Second World War as an operational base for service personnel tasked with packing parachutes and making camouflage.

In the 1950s and 1960s, it became a popular eatery known as The Old Dutch Barn and high-profile figures including Princess Margaret and Monty Python Michael Palin would dine there during visits to Southwold.

In 2006, it became Casa Mia – an Italian-style caf� bar, owned by singer-songwriter Ed Darragh.

It was run as a restaurant, cocktail bar, and as a late-night venue for live music, attracting a range of performers.

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