Pub chain in bid to extend hours

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A PUBS giant has sought to extend the operating hours at planned new town centre premises –just weeks after they were restricted by councillors.

JD Wetherspoon wants to vary a planning condition to run the pub, in the Corn Exchange, in Bury St Edmunds, from 7am to midnight Sunday to Thursday and 7am to 1am Friday and Saturday.

The company had requested these hours in its initial planning application for the premises, which St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s development control committee approved in April with a one hour reduction on its closing times.

Concerns have now been voiced by members of the community – some of whom had asked for the hours to be cut back when the plans were discussed by councillors.

Alan Jary, chairman of the Bury Society, said: “We were very pleased with the restriction on the hours. Nothing has changed so we wouldn’t change our stance.”

St Edmundsbury borough councillor Paul Farmer, who represents the Abbeygate ward, said: “I am disappointed and surprised that this extension is being sought before the business has even started trading. Having accepted the previous condition and incorporated its hours into their premises licence, I would have thought a trial period would be appropriate before attempting such an expansion.”

Andrew Hinchley, chairman of the Churchgate Area Association, added: “We are certainly concerned about the new planning application.

“The last thing Bury needs is a huge increase in numbers exiting pubs and clubs in the early hours of the morning. Police are already stretched to meet existing commitments.”

In a letter to the authority, Ricardo Rossetti, of agent Savills, said the extension of the opening hours would not change the environment and that Wetherspoon pubs used CCTV which ‘assists in deterring anti-social behaviour’.