Homes backing royally pleases Duke duo

Venessa Swan, outside the pub.
Venessa Swan, outside the pub.

Bouncing back from two rejections, the owners of a former north Suffolk pub have struck gold at the third time of asking in their bid to open holiday letting units on the site.

Paul and Venessa Swan, who own The Duke William in Metfield, have now received planning permission from Mid Suffolk District Council to open five ‘homes’ on the site - three of which would feature in the current building itself, and two others that would be attached to the rear.

The venue, which controversially closed as a pub in 2009, an issue which some villagers are still upset about, has been open since April as a tearoom, local goods and produce shop, and restaurant.

Mrs Swan, said: “We are absolutely over the moon with the decision. It is a really good step for us, and it has taken such a long time. It was really important for us to get these units on the site, and we will run them as a bed and breakfast service.”

She added: “The tearoom business has been doing exceptionally well, though - better than we thought. We have had a great response from villagers, and we are taking the same, if not more, than when the place was a pub.”

The couple claim that in the past, they have had their windows smashed, as well as vicious messages posted under their door.

But, relations have improved so much with Metfield residents since the reopening of the Duke William - which the couple claim will never be a pub again as long as they own the building - that the Swans are taking part in the Open Garden event this weekend.

The couple, experienced publicans who bought the premises’ freehold in 2006, claim holiday homes made their last pub, The Crown in Dickleburgh, a success.

Mr and Mrs Swan, who also run a bed and breakfast in Henham, had previously expressed disappointment at the way their holiday unit bids - which were both refused permission by the same planning authority - were handled by the council.

But, with that matter now resolved, the couple are in the process of arranging a building contract to start work on the holiday units. Mrs Swan said she hopes that at least one or two of the rooms will be open in time for next spring. The couple have also received planning permission for a cycle shed next to the site.

- What do you think of the Duke William’s reincarnation? Get in touch: email