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Concerns homes plans could hit night-time economy in Bury St Edmunds

Plans for six homes at a former Bury St Edmunds business premises could impact a neighbouring pub and the town’s night-time economy, it is feared.

West Suffolk Council is considering plans to convert Grade 1-listed 81 Guildhall Street into two homes, convert outbuildings into a further two homes and build another two dwellings on to St Andrew’s Street.

But Heather Warren, of neighbouring Oakes Barn, is concerned the new properties alongside the pub and community hub’s courtyard could impact her licence and ability to operate.

Heather Warren, of Oakes Barn
Heather Warren, of Oakes Barn

She said: “My courtyard is the only access to my business. I am concerned about the potential effect the current plans could have on my business, staff and community groups with noise, footfall, lights, music, deliveries etc. The plans show two bedrooms connected to Oakes Barn.”

Heather also fears the steady stream of former business sites becoming residential has a detrimental effect on the night-time economy.

Since opening Oakes Barn six years ago, she has seen Moza move and R-AGE close –with that site set to accommodate 16 flats – and a further three nearby businesses close or move, while proposals could see the former St Louis’ Middle School turned into more homes.

“Should we be acting now before our high street is lost to residential? I want to see a local high street thriving for generations,” she said.

Mark Cordell, of Business Improvement District Our Bury St Edmunds, has objected to the proposals. He said: “I am very concerned that this conversion is beside a busy town centre pub and just a couple of hundred yards from two night clubs.

“Should the planning application be passed I am concerned the occupants may be detrimentally affected by the noise next door and in the road as customers from these premises make their way home or on to other premises.

“This appears to be a potential issue of conflict that can easily be prevented by the use of the buildings remaining for commercial use.”

In 2018, new planning rules were passed meaning any new development next to ‘noise-making premises’ must mitigate any potential risk to the existing premises before receiving planning approval.

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