Southwold: Inspector to rule on bid to convert former Casa Mia piano bar into five-bedroom home

The former Casa Mia piano bar in Southwold.

The former Casa Mia piano bar in Southwold. - Credit: Archant � 2006

A government inspector is to rule on plans to turn a historic Southwold property into a five-bedroom home.

An application to convert the former Casa Mia piano bar in Ferry Road was rejected by Waveney District Council in May.

Its owner Chris Buck is now appealing against that decision after two failed attempts to redevelop the site. Plans to demolish the former restaurant – known locally as the Dutch Barn – and build two houses and a seasonal café in its place sparked a public outcry.

Objectors claimed the plans were inappropriate for a conservation area and constituted over-development of the site. The proposals were rejected by councillors because the site was in a flood plain and outside Southwold’s development limit.

A second application, to change the use of the building from a late-night music bar and restaurant with self-contained four-bedroom flat above into a single five-bedroom house, was refused because of the flood risk and because planners felt Mr Buck had failed to show that every attempt had been made to secure a commercial use.

Mr Buck, who has owned the building since 2010, did not want to comment on the case, which is out for public consultation at the moment.

Documents submitted with the planning appeal by Mr Buck’s agent Sally Minns stated that 49% of the building was already residential and the proposal “seeks to return the building to its original residential use as was the case in 1940”.

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Ms Minns said Mr Buck did look at insuring the property for commercial purposes but was told it could not be covered because the flood risk was too high for this type of use. She said he also contacted a number of organisations in March to see if they would run the premises commercially but this proved unsuccessful.

She added that the Environment Agency did not share Waveney’s view of the potential flood risk.

A Waveney District Council said it would be responding in due course to the appeal.