Posted: 08.09.20 at 11:59 by The Editor
An appeal by the owner of the Queen's Head i Erwarton against a council ruling not to allow her to convert the pub into a house, has been dismissed by a planning inspector.
Claire Niewiarowski sought to overturn Babergh District Council's decision to refuse permission for a change of use for the ground floor of the 300-year-old, Grade II listed building, to be used as accommodation.
Mrs Niewiarowski and husband Marek argued returning pub was not a viable option as it had previously failed before being sold by former owner James Buckle.
Planning Inspector David Wallis decided there was not sufficient justification to change the pub's use and said in his written summing up: "I conclude that it has not been demonstrated that securing employment use of the building has been explored fully through the viability assessment. Therefore, insufficient justification has been provided to allow conversion of the public house, and the proposal is contrary to policy EM24 of the Local Plan as a result."
He pointed out that even if the Queen's Head could not be reopened as pub, the couple had not looked at other options which could provide employment, for example; workshops or offices.
Although the Queen's Head is no longer an Asset of Community Value, as it has expired, locals have expressed a desire to purchase the building and turn it back into a successful pub.
Farmer William Wrinch, who lives at nearby Ness Farm, is convinced the pub could follow in the footsteps of places like the case is Altered at Bentley and the Brook Inn, at Washbrook that have used different models to turn them into community hubs that have proved popular with locals.
He told Nub News: A peninsula farmer is looking to put together a community group to buy the Queen's Head and block plans to turn it completely into a house.
William Wrinch made the move after current owners Claire and Marek Niewiarowski applied to Babergh District Council for permission to change its use from a public house to a residential property. Currently only the upstairs is used as accommodation and the ground floor remains a bar and restaurant area.
An Asset of Community Value on the Grade II listed pub recently lapsed but Mr Wrinch is determined to try and save the 300-year-old building as a pub and wants to open a dialogue with the owners.
"The Queen's Head was an incredibly popular, well run and highly thought of pub for many years," said Mr Wrinch, who lives close to the pub. "Sadly a change of direction by the owners led to mismanagement and the pub was wound down and eventually sold.
"I truly believe if we as a community can take ownership, we would breathe life back into the Queen's Head, making it a wonderful asset for our ever-increasing community and turn it into the hub of our village once more."
In its heyday the Queens Head was popular with local residents, villagers from nearby Shotley and Harkstead as well s cyclists, ramblers and tourists interested in Anne Boleyn, whose heart is reputed to be buried in the nearby St Mary's Church and who gives her name to the historic pub.
The Queens Head called last orders for the final time in 2009 and the Niewiarowskis bought the pub vowing to turn it into tea rooms and an arts and craft shop, however, that never materialised.