The Messenger Online

Six Bells, Gislingham - Update

The Six Bells Steering Group was formed in 2019 to buy the pub from the owners at the time, Harry and Carolyn. Since then, a lot has happened.

The pub was finally sold in late 2021 and, initially, there was much rejoicing since
it was believed that it would open again serving the community with a premises fitting for the village and providing food and drink for everyone!

However, it soon became apparent that this was not to be the case and it was discovered that a planning application had immediately been made for “change of use” to a veterinary practice.

A new group was formed, The Six Bells Community Group (SBCG), and work began to mobilise the village in order to present a robust objection to such a change. This is based on an objection to losing the only pub in the village.

Information regarding how and where to object was circulated and over 100 residents took to their (metaphorical) pens to voice their objections ... these ranged from technical analysis of the rules and regulations, through requirements within a community for a central/social venue, to purely heartfelt objections about “losing our pub!”. And we would like to thank all those who took the time to do so!

Members of SBCG also attended Gislingham Parish Council meetings and lobbied the PC and our local District Councillor, both of whom have given their support in rejecting the application, as well as keeping the pub the future.

Two of our members attended the Planning Hearing on 23rd March and gave a verbal representation as did a representative from the Parish Council, and we are pleased to report that the application was unanimously rejected on the grounds that it did not comply with Council regulations concerning the loss of public houses in rural communities.

The Group’s other objective was to begin the process, on behalf of residents, for another attempt at purchasing the pub should the opportunity arise, and this has been undertaken.

As a result, we wrote a letter to the new owners outlining the reasons for the planning refusal, and expressing the desire within the village for the pub to remain open; indeed offering support should they wish to continue running it as a public house, and also asking that they contact us should they wish to sell, in order that a purchase by residents could be undertaken.

Sadly, the response received is that they intend to lodge an appeal, thus reinforcing their wish to change from a pub to a veterinary practice and to ignore the strong feeling within the village.

Therefore, SBCG will be continuing our work to prevent the change and will be contacting residents to help demonstrate the strong feeling both against a change of use, and for a pub within the village, and to advise how/if residents can assist.

Please look out for flyers, leaflets, Messenger updates, and Web-based news and surveys, and I would urge you to help “save our pub”!

Thank you.

Chris Pitt, Chairman Six Bells Community Group