Pub in to house may go

A LANDLORD who has applied for permission to turn his pub into a house has assured villagers he will keep his premises open as long as possible.Roger Pryke, who runs the 16th century freehouse in Alderton, near Woodbridge, stressed that it was not his immediate intention to close The Swan Inn.

A LANDLORD who has applied for permission to turn his pub into a house has assured villagers he will keep his premises open as long as possible.

Roger Pryke, who runs the 16th century freehouse in Alderton, near Woodbridge, stressed that it was not his immediate intention to close The Swan Inn.

But he admitted that he needed more support to keep the pub afloat and Mr Pryke warned that another disaster similar to last year's foot-and-mouth disease would make the pub uneconomic to run.

Mr Pryke is asking Suffolk Coastal District Council to renew planning permission to convert The Swan into a house. This permission was given by a Government inspector at an appeal five years ago to Pubmaster, then owners of The Swan.

Villagers had launched an SOS – Save Our Swan – campaign and they were backed by district councillors who challenged Pubmaster's claim that the pub had no future. But the inspector said the council had acted unreasonably in fighting to stop the pub being turned into a house and tax payers picked up the £14,614 tab for Pubmaster's costs.

The pub was saved and bought by Christopher Buckley before the present owner bought it in November, 1999.

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Stuart Reid, planning consultant for Mr Pryke, said: ''Whilst drawing on his own funds Mr Pryke is able to continue the public house use, but such funds are not bottomless. We stress that it is not the immediate intent to close, but unless there is a dramatic upturn in trade and custom the prospect of him being able to continue indefinitely is clearly very unlikely.

''The objective of this application is thus simply to renew the appeal decision for a further duration so that if the day comes when the Inn cannot continue to be financed by Mr Pryke, he has a renewed planning permission to consider operating for the alternative use recently allowed on appeal.''

Mr Reid said the pub made a profit before tax of only £10,000 in Mr Pryke's first year and this had fallen to about £8,500. The staffing levels had been reduced and Mr Pryke had spent thousands of pounds on marketing and advertising to boost trade.