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Plans for extended café at Blackthorpe Barn, in Rougham

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A Rougham attraction has applied to West Suffolk Council for planning permission to build an extension.

The Rougham Estate wants to extend an existing building at Blackthorpe Barn to create a larger café, including an entrance lobby, following the demolition of an existing canopy.

A planning, design and access statement submitted to planners said the proposal would provide 'a much-needed, purpose-built café to accommodate the increasing number of visitors', adding: "The current café is already overcrowded during peak periods, which creates long queues and pressure on the catering team.

Blackthorpe Barn
Blackthorpe Barn

"The enlarged café will assist in ensuring the long-term sustainability and viability of this already successful farm diversification operation."

The proposed café would not alter the listed farm buildings, however it is within the curtilage of listed buildings and has the potential to affect their setting.

A heritage statement concluded the level of risk was low for the proposal's direct impact on Blackthorpe Barn and neighbouring Blackthorpe Farmhouse.

The proposal is to sensitively extend an existing building to seat about 70 visitors at a time.

The planning, design and access statement added: "The building must look as if it has 'always been there', positioned comfortably on the site and presenting a workmanlike appearance."

  • The barn dates back to around 1550 and was built as a threshing barn.
  • It remained in regular agricultural use until 1985, but by the mid 1980s tractors and farm equipment had become too large to access the building.
  • The barn was abandoned until 1990, when its thatched roof was deteriorating and the whole building was at risk of being lost.
  • The estate saved the building by having it rethatched. It relocated its Christmas tree sales to the barn from the estate office alongside the A14 and launched a craft fair. As the festive offering grew a pop-up café was launched, which has had to move several times as it became more popular.

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