Campaigners aim to make pub community asset to stop demolition

The White Horse, Felixstowe.

Efforts are being made to stop the proposed demolition of the much-loved White Horse at Old Felixstowe - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Campaigners fighting to stop a popular century-old pub being demolished are making an application to have it listed as a community asset.

Punch Taverns has lodged plans to knock down the White Horse at Old Felixstowe to replace it with a convenience store with four flats above and two three-bed bungalows in its car park.

More than 400 people have objected to the proposals, along with Felixstowe Town Council, the Felixstowe Society and Fair Play for Felixstowe. 

Now the Save the White Horse campaign is asking East Suffolk Council to list the pub in Church Road as a Community Asset - which would enable the community to put together a buy-out bid.

The group said: "It is possible that the application will take eight weeks to get determined during which time, of course, the decision on the planning application for the pub may be taken.

The White Horse, Felixstowe.

Campaigners hope the community will be able to buy and run the White Horse - Credit: Archant

"Once the application is approved, if the pub is put up for sale we will have a chance to find our own buyer.

"We may want to think about contacts who might be interested in buying the pub or setting up a group to do so. We would have six weeks to express an interest and then six months to put forward a bid or buyer.

"Punch would be free to refuse our bid but they could not sell to anyone else during that six month period.

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"If planning permission is approved, of course, then the market price would be considerably higher and would probably not appeal to someone to buy and run as a pub."

The building - which dates back to 1905 and stands on a site which has been home to a pub since 1712 - was designed by Thomas Cotman, architect of the resort's best-known properties.

The town council has called for the arts and crafts-style pub to be declared a Non-Designated Heritage Asset because of its history and design and its place as a landmark feature.

CPC Planning Consultants Limited, for Punch, said the majority of the trade at the pub was "drink focussed" relying on local regulars rather than food and people from outside the area.

It said: "The pub has recently found a declining trade, with a significant drop in revenue in 2019. Businesses such as the one run at White Horse have been unable to compete in the current market due to the lack of a food offering and declining wet sales resulting in the business as loss-making.

"Even with a substantial investment, in the region of circa £150,000, to improve the condition and presentation of the property, reflective of the existing choice in the immediate area, this would not attract any additional trade."

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