Pub owner given planning permission

Carol Gibson has come under criticism for trying to sell the former pub, currently trading as a bric-a-brac shop called The Bull Inn - A China Shop, and submitting a planning application to turn it into housing. ANL-141125-160544009
Carol Gibson has come under criticism for trying to sell the former pub, currently trading as a bric-a-brac shop called The Bull Inn - A China Shop, and submitting a planning application to turn it into housing. ANL-141125-160544009

The owner of a pub at the centre of a heated village row has gained planning permission for the site to be turned into housing.

Carol Gibson, who owns the Bull Inn in Thorpe Morieux, was granted the previously refused permission in November following an appeal and has put the property back on the market.

The beleaguered pub is at the centre of a disagreement over its status as an Asset of Community Value (ACV), which Babergh District Council decided it could retain following the last appeal in July.

However, the question has now be raised of whether the building can become a residential building while keeping its community asset status.

John Gagen, chairman of Thorpe Morieux Parish Council, said they are working with the district council to investigate options for the building.

“We are looking into what we can do, because we still want to save our pub,” he said. “I know Carol has won planning permission but the village is still very much missing its pub.”

Following its listing as an ACV, action group the Friends of Thorpe Bull put in an offer of £200,000 to purchase the pub, which Mr Gagen said was ‘ignored’.

Now the building is up for sale again, Mr Gagen said he is unsure if the community’s right to buy will still stand.

“The legislation for ACVs is still quite new. No one really seems to know where we stand,” he said. “It was hard work to get the pub listed. Babergh District Council have been totally on our side. They are looking into any ways we can keep it going.”

Of the building’s community asset status, Miss Gibson said: “I don’t know whether it is a foregone conclusion. It may be lifted but at the moment it is still in place. If it is now going to be a house, a house cannot possibly be a community asset, so one thing should follow the other.”

Miss Gibson said she currently has the Bull Inn on the market for just under £500,000 and will ‘sell it to someone who wants to turn it into a house’.

She added she has already sold the cottage adjacent the pub, which she also owned.

The Bull Inn was listed by Babergh District Council among its community assets in August 2013.

Earlier this year Miss Gibson failed in an attempt to overturn the community asset decision, arguing she had suffered serious financial losses since taking over the building in 2007.