Community leaders join growing opposition to pub demolition plans

The White Horse, Felixstowe.

The White Horse was designed by renowned Felixstowe architect Thomas Cotman - Credit: Archant

Community leaders have objected in the "strongest terms" to proposals to demolish a much-loved pub and replace it with a convenience store and homes.

Almost 400 residents have written to East Suffolk Council urging the planning authority to refuse the plans put forward by Punch Taverns for the White Horse at Old Felixstowe.

Now Felixstowe Town Council and the Felixstowe Society have both lodged objections in the  "strongest terms" - calling on the planners to protect the building, which was designed by Thomas Cotman, architect of the resort's best-known properties.

Punch Taverns says the White Horse at Old Felixstowe is no longer viable and would need £150,000 of investment for an incoming tenant to improve the premises and relaunch it.

The town council though said the huge number of public objections showed how much it is valued.

The council said: "The applicant has failed to provide evidence of 12 months' marketing, and we question the assertion that the business is no longer viable. We feel that the public house could be run profitably with different and more imaginative management techniques."

It suggested the arts and crafts-style pub in Church Road should be declared a Non-Designated Heritage Asset because of its history and design and its place as a landmark feature.

The proposed "utilitarian and uninteresting" convenience store would impact on residents and also harm the established convenience store nearby and the other local independent retail outlets.

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The council added: "We do not recognise the applicant's claim that an estimated increase of two-way vehicle trips from 93 to 726 per day represents a minor increase."

The Felixstowe Society said: "The design, appearance and historic significance of The White Horse and its associated outbuildings make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the area.

"The proposed development results in the total loss of the heritage asset thereby causing significant harm. The proposal does not result in sufficient public benefits to outweigh that harm."

The White Horse, Felixstowe.

The White Horse, Felixstowe. - Credit: Archant

Punch Partnerships (PML) Limited is  proposing to knock down the pub and in its place build a convenience store with four two-bed apartments above, and two three-bed bungalows in the car park.

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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