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Disappointment after plans for holiday cabin and bungalow development to help secure Polstead pub's future refused




A pub owner’s bid to help save his business by building six bungalows and five holiday cabins has been refused – despite huge public support.

Babergh District Council’s planning committee rejected a proposal to build on land next to The Brewers Arms in Bower House Tye, a hamlet just outside Polstead.

In a heated online meeting, pub owner Mitchell Marginson told councillors: “This application would secure our viability. It would increase employment, tourism and spending in the area, in a well-placed location supported by highways.”

The Brewers Arms in Polstead was refused permission to build new holiday cottages and bungalows on adjacent land, which was conceived in an effort to create new income streams to ensure the pub's survival. PICTURED: Mitchell Marginson. Picture by Mecha Morton.
The Brewers Arms in Polstead was refused permission to build new holiday cottages and bungalows on adjacent land, which was conceived in an effort to create new income streams to ensure the pub's survival. PICTURED: Mitchell Marginson. Picture by Mecha Morton.

Mr Marginson, who has operated the pub since 2007, added: “The industry is fragile, with rising costs and increasingly small margins. Time has been running out. The pandemic has increased debt. Without greater income streams, The Brewers Arms will be lost. The design and proposal only adds to the offering.”

The plans for four three-bedroom bungalows and two two-bedroom bungalows would have been earmarked for the over-55s.

The application had received 55 letters of support, as well as a petition in favour, which carried 530 signatures. There was only one letter against. Other proposals for development had previously been refused.

Resident Shaun Davis said in support: “This is a much-loved pub that is a key part of the village and a venue to many local clubs and groups that would not survive without it.”

Councillors criticised the apparently cash-strapped Mr Marginson for not taking all opportunities to open for outside dining. The pub has been closed all of this year and is set to reopen from May 17.

Mr Davis added that opening during lockdown “was not a viable option” for the pub, which employs 15 staff.

Council officer Samantha Summers said: “The application is considered to be inappropriate for new housing. Bower House Tye is a small cluster of dwellings that does not have a built-up area boundary and is, therefore, considered to be countryside.”

She added that shops, doctors surgeries and churches were all several kilometres away and along a 60mph road with no footpath.

“Public benefits are very limited as there are no affordable housing contributions,” she said. “Therefore, the public benefits are not considered to outweigh the harm.”

Members voted unanimously against the plans. Councillor Lee Parker said: “I can understand the need for the holiday cabins, but I am at a complete loss as to why there is a need for the six dwellings.

“It is in an unsustainable location and contrary to everything we have planned for. I don’t think there is any justification. If we support this, we might as well just tear up our local plan and everything we have been working towards.”

Fellow councillor Stephen Plumb added: “I do not like being blackmailed into giving recommendations.”

Mr Marginson said afterwards: “I am greatly disappointed as I thought, with the amount of community support, there was a great chance of it going through. When Cllr Plumb said that, the atmosphere turned. There was no appreciation of what we were trying to do and I don’t know what was so inappropriate.”