THE national pub chain Wetherspoon has been praised for the quality of its first Stowmarket pub.
The company is better known for creating pubs in existing buildings, like its plan for Bury St Edmunds’ Corn Exchange, but The Willow Tree in Ipswich Street is a brand new £1.7 million building replacing the old offices of Seamans Building Company. It opens on Tuesday creating 40 jobs.
Lesley Mayes, Stowmarket Town Council’s planning chairman and Mid Suffolk District council’s portfolio holder for the town’s regeneration, said: “We’re pleased that they listened to our comments and we’ve now got a very well- designed frontage in what is a conservation area.”
She said she was also pleased to see that so many of the staff were young and added: “Young unemployment is a big problem and anything we can do to alleviate that is a good thing.”
Dave Benham, Mid Suffolk’s regeneration manager, said the recession had delayed the pub but he was delighted with the result.
“They took on board what we wanted and it fits very well with the streetscape,” he said.
He added that creating something new that fitted in in a conservation area was a challenge.
“If it’s going to work it’s got to fit in the environment otherwise in 20 years time it’s going to look awful and nobody will want to go there.
“If it’s attractive it brings people into the place,” he said.
The Willow Tree’s manager, Phil Stanyon, said there was a possibility of more jobs and promised to focus on local and regional beers.
“We open on an Adnam’s beer festival and after that will look at smaller breweries within Suffolk,” he said. But he stressed the pub, named after the town’s osier growing for baskets, is not all beer. “Our food offering is great,” he said. “We’ll be opening for breakfasts from 8am and doing food until 8pm. We’ll have great coffee, too.”