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Bells ring true as pub regular buys business in Preston St Mary

The new owner of a village pub is optimistic about its future, following concerns that the site could be redeveloped into homes.

Mark Ward, who purchased the Six Bells in Preston St Mary earlier this year, was keen to preserve the site, which dates back to the 14th century.

“It’s a beautiful, old, timber-framed building and I wanted to ensure that it remained a pub,” said Mr Ward, who owns a farm and a pest control business nearby.

Having frequented the pub for 40 years, the 54-year-old said he was determined to take a customer-oriented approach to ensure the business thrives.

“I will listen to customers’ thoughts and desires to make it a place where they can come on a regular basis,” said Mr Ward, who has accumulated decades of local knowledge, having lived and worked in the village for the majority of his life.

Acknowledging that the future of local pubs continues to be under threat, Mr Ward highlighted the importance of retaining loyal customers.

“It’s a community asset and, like all these things, they need supporting,” he said.

The team of staff, who previously worked at the pub, have retained their jobs.

Former owner Richard Martin failed to secure planning permission to build six two-bedroom homes in the inn’s back garden, after the plans were refused by Babergh District Council, on the grounds that the development was deemed not to be in keeping with the historic character of the village.

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