September 18 2014 Latest news:
Andrew Hirst and Henry Hunt
Friday, August 22, 2014
Plans for a new chain pub and restaurant to be built on the site of a former doctors’ surgery in east Suffolk have been given the go-ahead, despite scores of community objections.
JD Wetherspoon’s £2.6million proposals for the former Central Surgery at the top of Hamilton Road in Felixstowe were approved by Suffolk Coastal District Council’s south area planning committee yesterday.
The application had been recommended for approval by the council’s planning case officer Liz Beighton, who said the development represented confidence in the town and should act as a catalyst for further investment.
She said the pub would “offer more to visitors and residents alike and further the town as a destination to live and holiday”.
“The application will also offer employment opportunities in both its running as a public house but also its construction, and offer valuable training and employment for local residents,” she added.
In its design and access statement JD Wetherspoon said the proposals “present an opportunity to bring a viable, sustainable use to the currently under-used building”.
“The contribution this site makes to the quality of the area can therefore be considerably enhanced by this redevelopment,” the statement added.
“It is able to address a range of townscape and urban design issues dramatically improving the coherence and legibility of this area.”
Residents of the town, however, had voiced opposition to the proposals, with around 60 comments sent to the council’s planning department.
Terry Lomax, who is a grandfather living in Felixstowe, said scenes of drinking in the morning would leave a bad impression on young children, posing the question: “Do we really want that generation growing up to accept open air drinking during the daytime as the norm?”
Concerns were also raised about the pub’s attracting anti-social behaviour, which was also highlighted by several of those commenting.
Chrissie Weid, who also lives in the area, said she feared “desperately” for the surrounding residents.
“This establishment would be one of the first glimpses of Felixstowe on approach to the town and I do not consider it to be the impression its residents would encourage,” she added.
Concerns about the pub’s perceived negative impact on nearby cafes and tea shops, which also serve breakfast, were also raised by resident Dave Duncan.
Ms Beighton, in her report to councillors, said issues such as how the pub would be run, alcohol prices or competition with other businesses were not relevant matters for consideration.