Campaigners seek help to buy much-loved pub and save it from bulldozers

The White Horse, Felixstowe.

The White Horse is up for sale for £850,000 but development plans have not yet been approved - Credit: Archant

Campaigners fighting to stop a much-loved pub designed by one of Suffolk's best-known architects from being demolished are hoping people will come together to save it.

The White Horse Action Group have been heartened by progress so far to keep the bulldozers at bay - but may face having to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Punch Taverns has put the century-old pub in Church Road, Old Felixstowe, up for sale with Savills with a guide price understood to be around £850,000.

While campaigners would hope to negotiate a lower price, they still face a stiff task - and much depends on whether East Suffolk Council gives permission for the building to be knocked down and replaced with a convenience store with four flats above and two three-bed bungalows in its car park.

The council though has decided that the pub, designed by Thomas Cotman, should be listed as a non-designated heritage asset (NDHA) and it has been made an asset of community value (ACV).

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Punch has appealed the ACV designation.

The community group though has expressed an ‘interest to bid’ which means Punch cannot sell it until March 2022, unless they win their appeal on the ACV.

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In a message of thanks to their supporters, the White Horse Action Group said the public had "made a difference" with 400 people lodging objections to the planning application and 540 people signing a petition.

The group said: "We are continuing to champion our friendly local pub and are actively searching for local businesses, entrepreneurs or an individual to help save it.

"Could you help buy this beautiful building and keep it running as a successful venue? The community will support it, and any potential owner, in any way possible."

The district council has yet to decide Punch Taverns' planning application and there is no indication yet as to when it will come before planners.

CPC Planning Consultants Limited, for Punch Taverns, said the majority of the trade at the pub was "drink focussed" relying on local regulars rather than food and people from outside the area.

It said: "The pub has recently found a declining trade, with a significant drop in revenue in 2019. Businesses such as the one run at White Horse have been unable to compete in the current market due to the lack of a food offering and declining wet sales resulting in the business as loss-making.

"Even with a substantial investment, in the region of circa £150,000, to improve the condition and presentation of the property, reflective of the existing choice in the immediate area, this would not attract any additional trade."

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