Wetherspoons plans: A chance to have your say

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MEMBERS of the public will be able to view and comment on Wetherspoons’ plans for the Corn Exchange from later today.

The pub giant has submitted plans to take on the lease for the first floor of the 150-year-old, grade II listed building in Bury St Edmunds. A four-week consultation over the plans will now take place.

A date for the final decision, which will be made by St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s development control committee, is yet to be set. However, the committee is due to meet on April 7 and again on April 28 – its final meeting before the council elections in May.

The council has already selected Wetherspoons as its preferred tenant for the building. The firm said it would invest about £1.4 million on refurbishment and create about 35 new jobs.

But the development control committee has also already turned down an application by the council for change of use of the top floor as a pub. The council made that application in a bid to boost its rental value.

Now Wetherspoons will have to show how it can overcome the committee’s concerns over potential impact on residents and businesses that led to that refusal. A licensing application will also follow.

Meanwhile, Abbeygate ward member Cllr Paul Farmer, has already called for the pub’s operating hours to be limited until midnight on Friday’s and Saturdays, and until 11pm for the rest of the week. He also wants smokers banned from the front steps of the building.

“There are very mixed feelings in my ward about Wetherspoons taking over the Corn Exchange as a pub,” he said.

“Some would like themselves and families to be able to benefit from competitive food and drink prices; others are worried about the impact a giant pub will have on the town centre at night, including the viability of smaller long established outlets.

“Rather than simply oppose the applications, I want to concentrate on ensuring that this venture meets as many needs as possible.”

View the application at www.stedmundsbury.gov.uk/swiftlg/apas/run/wphappcriteria.display and search for applications SE/11/0187 SE/11/0190 and SE/11/0191.