Plans to turn an ‘eyesore’ former pub in Haverhill’s High Street into a shop and 11 flats have been approved amid calls for a rear access to be provided in the future.
St Edmundsbury Council’s development control committee voted overwhelmingly in favour of S2 Estates application to turn the The Bell into a ground floor shop, with two flats in the existing building and a further nine at its rear, when it met last week.
Haverhill Town Council had objected to the proposals, partly because it provides vehicular access for the flats’ occupants via the High Street and not from the rear, which it feels may prejudice any further plans to pedestrianise the High Street.
Councillors backed the plans for the building, which has been boarded up since late 2013, but many wanted to see rear access provided in the future.
Tim Marks, a borough councillor for Haverhill, said: “We should be looking at how rear access can be developed.
“Can we do something about getting the rear access for vehicles and not coming up the High Street.”
Cllr Sara Mildmay-White added: “There’s no doubt this is an eyesore of the High Street.
“I do think it’s a shame that the applicants have not come forward with a scheme for rear access for this.” During the meeting planning officer Chris Rand said he had received a letter of support for the application on behalf of 33 businesses in Haverhill.
The letter outlined how business owners felt the project would ‘return the pub to an attractive new use’ and develop ‘much needed new homes that will add to the vibrancy and attractiveness of the town centre.’
Mr Rand added: “Vibrant town centres to not rely solely on retail they rely on a multiplicity of uses and residential is a big part of that.”