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Harkstead pub future still in doubt

PUBLISHED: 16:15 01 February 2002 | UPDATED: 15:25 03 March 2010

FEW glasses were raised today after the go ahead was given to build next to a popular pub on the Shotley Peninsula.

Having the planning application accepted should have opened the doors to a unique partnership between developer and parish - and secured the future of the Bakers Arms, in Harkstead.

FEW glasses were raised today after the go ahead was given to build next to a popular pub on the Shotley Peninsula.

Having the planning application accepted should have opened the doors to a unique partnership between developer and parish – and secured the future of the Bakers Arms, in Harkstead.

But things could turn out very differently.

The future of the pub – the only remaining community meeting point in a tiny rural village, which has already lost its village shop and post office – hung in the balance when owners Pubmaster put the watering hole on the market in mid 2000.

Residents reacted with alarm and pledged an astonishing £60,000 to hand over to landlords Kevin Dale and his partner Maggie Bennett so that they could buy the property.

A lifeline was thrown to the village when developer Martin Blake signalled his intention to complete the purchase of the pub and then offer it back to its landlords at a reasonable price, providing he could build a house on the rear of the land.

Numerous objections were made to the design of the proposed pub-side dwelling and a planning application by Merchant Projects Ltd, for a smaller scaled down two-storey cottage was approved by Babergh District Council's development committee.

But when questioned by The Evening Star Mr Blake was unable to confirm his intention to forge ahead with the plan.

"If Pubmaster let me buy the pub and land at a price I originally agreed on and on the terms I originally agreed I will do the deal with Kevin but if they don't I can't," he said.

"When I started to buy that over a year ago that was what I wanted to achieve but I can't achieve it without the help of other people," he said, highlighting the objections made to the original planning application.

Mr Dale said that he was still worried about the future of the pub and that rather than the new house next door offering a solution to the problems he feared it would only add to them, because it was too close to the pub and destroyed its setting.

A spokeswoman for Pubmaster confirmed that the land and the pub were being sold separately. She added that the future of Bakers Arms was under review.

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