A planning application to transform Bressingham’s only remaining public house into a boutique bed and breakfast business has been met with concern at its potential loss.
The proposal to change the The Chequers Inn, the A1066-based pub that closed for business in mid-2012 after a turbulent period of changing ownership, was first submitted in early June this year by current owners Mr and Mrs M Knox-Johnston, in conjunction with architects Last & Tricker Partnership.
However, despite no adverse objections to the plans from South Norfolk Council’s environmental and highways consultants, the matter has proved very divisive with members of the public, with some expressing concerns about the potential loss of the area’s last pub, while others have welcomed the opportunity to see the long-disused building in operation again.
Matthew and Dawn Gladd, of High Road, commented in opposition of the proposal: “Bressingham is well served by established forms of B&Bs in the village itself and the surrounding area.
“What the village does not have is a public house that provides a meeting place for local people and a venue for local employment.”
In contrast, John and Maureen Haddon, of Low Road, said: “We do not feel the local community has supported the public house in recent years since the refurbishment.
“Hence we feel this wonderful old building would be better being used as a boutique B&B rather than remain unused.”
The Grade II-listed Chequers Inn, which first opened almost 500 years ago, grabbed the headlines back in 2009 after a massive fire completely gutted much of the building.
It was meticulously rebuilt to English Heritage specifications at a cost of £700,000 and later re-opened, but following two separate spells of new management and subsequent closure, it ceased trading almost two years ago.
According to South Norfolk Council development policy, a ‘change of use’ application would only be permitted if the applicant could prove the facility’s current purpose had no reasonable future prospects, whether this was due to lack of need, demand or economic viability.
The application is in consideration and a decision from South Norfolk Council, the planning authority, is expected in the coming months.