Government inspector will decide fate of Southwold’s Dutch Barn

The former Casa Mia piano bar in Southwold.

The former Casa Mia piano bar in Southwold. - Credit: Archant © 2006

A government inspector is to rule on plans to turn an historic Southwold property into a five-bedroom home.

An application to convert the former Casa Mia piano bar in Ferry Road for residential use was rejected by Waveney District Council's development control committee in May.

Its owner Chris Buck is now appealing that decision after two failed attempts to redevelop the site.

Plans to demolish the former restaurant – known locally as the Dutch Barn – and build two houses and a seasonal café in its place sparked a public outcry when they were submitted in August last year,

Objectors claimed the plans were inappropriate for a conservation area and constiututed over-development of the site.

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The proposals were rejected by councillors because the site was in a flood plain and outside Southwold's development limit.

A second application, to change the use of the building from a late night music bar and restaurant with self-contained four-bedroom flat above into a single five-bedroom house, was refused because of the flood risk and because planners felt Mr Buck had failed to show that every attempt had been made to secure a commercial use for the property.

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Mr Buck, who has owned the building since 2010, did not want to comment on the case, which is currently out for public consultation.

However, documents submitted with the planning appeal by Mr Buck's agent Sally Minns state that 49pc of the building is already residential and the proposal 'seeks to return the building to its original residential use as was the case in 1940'.

Ms Minns says Mr Buck did look into insuring the property for commercial purposes but was told it could not be covered because the flood risk was too high for this type of use.

She says he also contacted a number of organisations in March to see if they would run the premises commercially but this proved unsuccessful because potential tenants were concerned about the flood risk and the costs of bringing the premises up to standard.

She adds that the Environment Agency did not share Waveney's view of the potential flood risk and says the property was not at risk of flooding in the short to medium term.

A Waveney District Council spokesman said the authority had received the appeal papers and it would be responding in due course.

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