The owner of a former village pub has been served with an enforcement notice to restore the pub or potentially face criminal action.

East Suffolk Council has given Mark Cunningham until May 2025 to stop the unauthorised use of the Queen at Brandeston as a home and return the premises to being a pub.

The action comes less than a week after Mr Cunningham wrote to the parish council offering to lease the pub for use as a "drinking establishment".

The parish council declined to comment on the matter.

READ MORE: The Queen at Brandeston owner offers to lease Suffolk pub

In February, East Suffolk Council refused Mr Cunningham's plans to change the pub into a home because of the detriment the change would pose to the community.

An East Suffolk Council spokesperson said: “Having been made aware of an unauthorised change of use to this premises, a planning enforcement investigation was carried out and a planning application for change of use was subsequently submitted and refused.

"An enforcement notice for the unauthorised use has now been served and compliance with this notice is expected by May 2025.”

As part of the application, a viability report on Mr Cunningham's behalf by real estate firm Savills appeared to show that a pub was not viable, while a separate study by chartered surveyor Nigel Thirkell suggested the pub could have an annual turnover of £465,250.

READ MORE: Plans to turn Brandeston Queen pub into home refused

The plans received 253 comments from the public, with the majority opposed, amid a campaign to keep the pub open.

The pub is also registered as an asset of community value, which places restrictions on development and gives the community the right to buy the property if it is listed for sale.

But the owner attacked claims by villagers that they had nowhere to meet to discuss the lease offer because the pub was shut, claiming they could meet at the village hall, which was licenced to sell alcohol, or the nearby Kettleburgh Chequers pub.

READ MORE: Council's 'concerned' Queen pub at Brandeston still closed

Mr Cunningham said: "We have not changed anything, so the accusation of unauthorised development is completely false.

"The trade area is as it was when it closed in 2022. This was viewed by the parish council vice-chairperson three weeks ago, when I asked him to inspect the building in an attempt to stop the proliferation of lies.

"The photographs taken of furniture are the very same furniture that was in the pub trade area before it was sold, the villagers would have sat on it.

"We reside upstairs in the flat and we pay business rates for the closed trade area and we pay a separate domestic council tax for upstairs, as it is rated as private, non-business according to the valuation office.

READ MORE: Suffolk pop-up to return after Queen at Brandeston closed

"East Suffolk Council enforcement is a completely discretionary action by the council and is based on risk to the community or environment.

"It is obvious the Queen being closed represented a huge risk as we were hit with the enforcement notice before we even had the chance of submitting our appeal, only some weeks after the planning refusal.

"What’s amazing in this saga is, East Suffolk Council and Brandeston Parish Council, along with a small part of the Brandeston villagers, are completely comfortable with us either being bankrupted if we open the pub or being evicted and made homeless if we don’t, even though we own the property, so a few people can have an occasional beer or not, as was the case."