pub plan go-ahead

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A PUBS giant has been given the go-ahead to open a premises in an historic town centre building – despite objections by residents and businesses.

J D Wetherspoon was yesterday given planning permission to transform the first floor and part of the ground floor of the Corn Exchange, in Bury St Edmunds, in to a pub.

However, members of St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s development control committee voted to reduce the venue’s proposed operating hours.

The plans for the grade II listed building had drawn criticism from nearby residents and retail unit leaseholders in the Corn Exchange, who raised fears about its impact on the community.

The company had wanted to run the pub from 7am to midnight Sunday to Thursday and 7am to 1am Friday and Saturday including a drinking up period.

It also sought listed building and advertisement consent, which had initially been recommended for refusal by planning bosses due to the nature of the signage which had been drawn up.

However, these issues have since been addressed and consent was granted.

At the committee meeting in the Athenaeum, Sarah Green, chairman of the Bury Society, urged that opening hours for the premises be reduced and further consideration be given to the ‘inadequate proposals’ for disabled access.

Cllr David Nettleton, of Bury St Edmunds Town Council and a borough councillor, asked for the application to be refused because ‘it isn’t a suitable building to be used as a public house’.

Cllr Paul Farmer, who represents the Abbeygate ward for the borough and town councils, also asked for the hours to be cut back.

He said residents ‘should not have to put up with the understandable noise made by hundreds of even well behaved customers leaving beyond midnight’.

Cllr Trevor Beckwith said the venue would would lead to people ‘transiting’ through the town and felt that the disabled access was a ‘disgrace’.

Cllr Peter Stevens said: “You can’t expect a quiet lifestyle in the centre of town. Wetherspoons offers us an opportunity to preserve a listed building. The fear of the impact is more of a fear than a fact.”

Ricardo Rossetti, senior planner at Savills, who are the agents for Wetherspoons, said: “The outside areas will be carefully managed and sympathetic to the premises and surrounding environment.”

He added that the premises would contribute ‘positively to the vitality and vibrancy of the locality’.

The committee voted to reduce the hours to close the pub at 11pm Sunday to Thursday and midnight Friday and Saturday. The plans were voted through with 12 in favour, three against and one abstention.

Wetherspoons will now have to apply separately for a licence.