Kessingland’s historic King’s Head pub to be converted into homes

The former King's Head public house, Kessingland.

The former King's Head public house, Kessingland. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A historic former coastal pub is to be partly demolished and turned into homes – despite protests from residents that the village could lose a key aspect of its heritage.

Kessingland residents successfully stopped a plan to bulldoze the old King's Head in its entirety last year, with a planning inspector agreeing that the building should be saved.

But Lowestoft-based Badger Building submitted another application, this time proposing that the main part of the building facing the High Street be kept and converted into three homes.

It then asked for a single-storey block at the rear, which was part of the pub, to be destroyed to make way for five homes.

Kessingland Parish Council chairman Liam Martin argued that the planning inspector's ruling applied to the whole building, not just the main part.

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But Badger Building's land and planning manager Edward Gilder said it would not be viable to keep the single storey section at the rear, as it would prevent rear access at one of the homes.

'In comparison with the main part of the property, there's nothing of historic interest in that part at the back,' he told Waveney District Council's planning committee yesterday.

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'We think the work we've done shows the best compromise we can achieve.

Planning officer Richard Amor said: 'Part of the building would be without light. Clearly there is a viability issue here.'

He also said there was 'no objection in principal to development on this site', because: 'There's very little doubt it would simply not be viable to reconvert the building back into a public house.

The pub – which dates back to the 1700s and was the place where the Suffolk Humane Society was founded – has been closed for over three years and only operated intermittently in recent times, as landlords have struggled to make a success of the business.

The village has two other popular pubs.

And councillors voted unanimously in favour of the plans, with Sue Allen saying: 'The benefit of doing this application certainly outweighs anything else.'

Fellow planning committee member Norman Brooks added: 'It will retain the character of the front of the building.

'I have 30 years experience in public houses – that is never going to open as a pub again.

'The street scene I think will be improved. I think it's a good compromise. Something is needed other than a derelict site.'

Councillor Graham Elliott said it was 'disappointing' not all of the heritage of the building will be retained but conceded the bulk of the history would be.

However the approval was subject to some variations being made to the design of the new buildings, after councillor Ian Graham raised concerns the current design would not be keeping with the historic main King's Arms building.

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