Pub battle set for round two

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The owner of a Great Cornard pub has launched an appeal against the refusal of plans to demolish the property and build a food store in its place.

Punch Taverns, which owns The Highbury Barn in Canhams Road, was refused permission to demolish the 18th-century pub and build a £1million retail unit by Babergh District Council’s development committee in December.

The plans were refused as they went against planning policies to retain “important local features in all new developments and conserve heritage assets”, according to case officer Christine Thurlow but Punch Taverns has now lodged an appeal.

Gavin Fance, a Sycamore Road resident who has organised the Save the Barn campaign to fight the plans, said: “I was disappointed in the fact that Punch has decided to appeal the decision, but at the same time I expected it.”

Mr Fance’s grandparents, Jean and Dell Fance, were landlords at the pub from 1974 to 1982.

“We will have to start resubmitting our objections yet again,” said Mr Fance.

“Hopefully this time, as it is out of councillors’ hands, we may see if we can get some of their support.”

He said he had contacted Punch Taverns to make it aware of the number of people that had signed the petition.

“If it were to reopen the pub, it would have the support of local people,” he said.

“It would be a great loss to the community of Great Cornard if the pub went. It is one of the few pubs with restaurant facilities in the area so it would be a shame.”

A spokeswoman for Babergh District Council explained that the appeal had not yet been verified by the planning inspectorate, which was waiting to receive further information from Punch Taverns. If it was validated, another round of consultation would be held, she confirmed.

She said a decision is usually made around 20 weeks after the validation of an appeal.

A spokeswoman for Punch Taverns, which is reported to be in around £2.5billion of debt, said: “The Highbury Barn remains closed as it is not viable to operate.

“Should the right offer be received from any interested party to purchase the freehold of the property, we would most certainly be happy to consider it.”

She declined to comment on the reasons for appealing the council’s decision.