Town centre pub could be turned into flats

Two men can be seen here boarding up the Bell in Haverhill High Street on Tuesday afternoon (Nov 26) ENGANL00520131126153521
Two men can be seen here boarding up the Bell in Haverhill High Street on Tuesday afternoon (Nov 26) ENGANL00520131126153521

A planning proposal to turn an empty town centre pub into flats and a retail unit will be discussed by the town council.

The Bell Hotel on the High Street, formerly owned by the Greene King brewing company, shut last November and has been empty ever since.

A planning application has now been submitted to St Edmondsbury Borough Council to turn the pub into 11 homes, including five one-bedroom flats and six two-bedroom flats.

The plans also include a retail unit on the ground floor, a landscaped area at the rear of the building and parking for eight vehicles.

The plans will be discussed by Haverhill Town Council on August 12.

According to the planning statement, the development would be undertaken with the intention of “bringing about a positive change within this vibrant town centre.”

The new developments would be built inside the exisisting building, as well as in a new extension that would be built.

Access to the parking area would be gained via an entrance on the High Street.

Driving in this part of town is normally prohibited between 10am and 4pm from Monday to Friday, and 6am to 6pm on Saturdays when a market is held, due to a Traffic Regulation Order.

There is an exemption from this order which allows people to access off street parking, which would allow potential residents to access the flats on weekdays.

The exemption does not, however, cover the Saturday street market, and access to the flats’ car park will still be restricted between 6am and 6pm on Saturdays.

Colin Poole, Haverhill’s Town Clerk, said: “My concern is that the borough and county councils have just announced a review of the town centre master plan, and consideration to that will have to be given.

“The site is a key site because of the walk through on the side. Also, the piece of land between the car park and Peacock’s car park is vital. It’s close to the bus station and any plans for the town centre must come first.

“The plan may be rejected simply on the grounds that there’s a bigger plan for the area. It it doesn’t fit in with the plans for Haverhill town centre, it may not be a good idea.”

Despite this, Sarah Howard, chair of One Haverhil, the group responsible for the town centre masterplan, saw the positive side of the development.

“It’s interesting,” she said. “We’ve been looking at different town centres and how they are going to change in the coming years and how they are going to attract more people in.

“It’s not just going to be shops, it’s about libraries, restaurants and flats.

“If there are flats in the town centre, that’s a good thing.

“When the shops shut at night, there will be people around. It makes it a safer and more inviting in the evenings.”

So far, the borough council has received one objection from Jason Crooks of Pound Green.

Mr Crooks drew attention to the effect the development would have on the look of the High Street, which is part of the town centre conservation area.