Appeal clears way for shop to change to a restaurant

The former Officers' Club shop could become a restaurant
The former Officers' Club shop could become a restaurant

A planning inspector’s decision to allow a prominent empty shop to become a restaurant has been welcomed.

The inspector, Frances Mahoney, said change of use of the former Officers’ Club shop in Cornhill, Bury St Edmunds, should be allowed to widen its appeal to would-be tenants.

In overturning St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s refusal of an application by a property agent, she said the council’s objections centred on alterations to a grade II listed building in a conservation area. But Ms Mahoney said a flat roof at the back of the property would accommodate kitchen extraction units and changes would be subject to listed building consent.

She added: “In its vacant state it significantly diminishes the attraction of this part of the shopping area and the character of the conservation area.

“The proposal would offer a further option to bring the building back into use.”

Mark Cordell, chief executive of Bid4Bury, said: “I wholeheartedly agree with him. Nobody wants any building vandalism to make it look horrible but it has got to be better if it’s looking better.

“I’m aware that national restaurant chains have looked at it before.”

Traders have said the run down look of that part of Cornhill deters shoppers from carrying on to St John’s Street. Mr Cordell said: “If it becomes a good destination you’ll have people coming out of it at the top of St John’s Street.”