Plans to redevelop a village pub to provide three cottages have been refused due to concerns about the viability of the pub, which is registered as an asset of community value (ACV).

Edward Bolton had applied to East Suffolk Council for permission to refurbish and extend the Three Horseshoes in Charsfield, near Wickham Market, which included improving access to the premises and the car park and outdoor facilities, as well as providing the two-bedroom cottages.

However, council planners said the proposals would change the use of an ACV, which protects land or property deemed to be of importance to a local community.

The pub initially closed in May 2011 but subsequent reopened under new publicans with an eight year lease, although in May 2020 it was closed again.

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Of particular concern was the impact of the plans on the garden, as the pub's surrounding land is also protected by the ACV.

In their refusal letter, the planners said: "When taken as a whole, the development would represent a change of use of an asset of community value due to the loss of existing outdoor space associated with the public house, which is included within its listing.

"Due to the loss of this outdoor space, the reduction in garden area would compromise the potential viability of the public house and its attractiveness to customers."

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A community group, the Charsfield Three Horseshoes Community Pub Ltd, has been set up to fight to keep the pub and 27 villagers had written to the district council to object to the application, most citing concerns about the pub's viability.

The village parish council has also opposed the plans, saying: "This application is contrary to the Local Plan which states that proposals to change the use, or redevelop for a different use, a facility registered as an asset of community value will not be permitted.

"This sets a high bar and the reasons whereby the redevelopment of the car park and the subsequent loss of the garden would be permitted, have not been met.

However, the applicant's agent, architect David Houchell said he would be discussing whether to appeal the decision with Mr Bolton, adding a lot of "mistrust" had built up between the community and his client.

He said the opponents of the plans had been headed up by a barrister and had "made life difficult" for the applicant, adding that they had made assumptions without speaking to his client to find out more.

"I have got to communicate with my client, but I will be recommending that an appeal is the fairest way of getting a fair judgement," Mr Houchell said.