New venture for 'beautiful' seafront B&B
- Credit: Mick Howes
It has stood prominently as a "beautiful B&B" within a conservation area featuring stunning views of the seafront for more than 40 years.
But now the owners of the popular Somerton Guest House are set to leave the business next month after almost a decade in charge.
Ursula Jones and Brian Rogerson have run Somerton on Kirkley Cliff for nine years as joint owners of the Grade II listed mid-terrace, five storey, Victorian townhouse.
And while they admitted it would be "very sad" to leave their home and business behind, having had thousands of people stay there over the years, the couple said it was a "sign of the times" amid a seeming decline in seafront guest houses.
They said that since 2013 "so many" B&B's have disappeared from the town's landscape - with only a handful of "small, hard working" B&B's remaining.
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Ms Jones said: "I am not sure if people are aware of how many bed and breakfasts we have now lost?
"When we came to Lowestoft in 2013 there were 17 small independent B&B's along London Road South, Marine Parade and Kirkley Cliff.
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"In the last few years we have lost so many."
Mr Rogerson added: "Its a traditional thing in this country with people coming here for breaks and having bed and breakfast by the seaside.
"There is a really nice family feel to the B&Bs, but there has been a lot of guest houses closed for various reasons over the years.
"It is a sign of the times and the decline of guest houses in Lowestoft, well its a real shame."
Featuring nine bedrooms with a capacity of up to 15 visitors at any given time, Ms Jones said it had been a "privilege" to have owned the "beautiful Grade II listed building for the last nine years."
She added: "She has been hard work upgrading and refurbishing the house, however our time has come to an end.
"From November 12, the new owners are taking her in a different direction, but still staying in the hospitality trade.
"This world is a changing place, but little independent businesses are disappearing fast."
They are set to hold an 'open house' sale on November 6, with guided viewings on November 4, between 10am and noon, and from 1pm to 3pm on November 5.
Ahead of the sale next month, Mr Rogerson said: "It will be very sad (on November 12).
"We have enjoyed doing what we have done and provided a good living - with thousands coming through those doors over the past nine years.
"Its a lovely area and trade has been very good.
"We've had so many children and families attend over the years, many from all over the world.
"Since we bought Somerton, each year has been busier and busier until Covid hit.
"Covid hit us really bad, like most businesses, and while there was some help from central government, local government was not very helpful in my opinion.
"We have employed four staff members from the town, and we wish the new owners - along with the other guest houses - well.
"The community within the guest houses locally has been really good."
Ms Jones added: "We've used local businesses, local suppliers - an awful lot of local people in the area.
"Over the past nine years it has been a challenge as we've refurbished, repointed, rebuilt and added extensions to a grade two building.
"These are big houses with large overheads.
"The costs of keeping these big properties its extortionate, and there has been a lack of support for small, independent businesses."
To book viewings of Somerton House ahead of the 'open house' sale, call 01502 565665.
The new owners - who take over next month - lodged change of use plans with East Suffolk Council last month.
Centring around "change of use of a guest house (C1) to a single holiday let (Sui Generis)" at Somerton House on Kirkley Cliff Road, the proposals are "awaiting decision" with the council.
A design and access statement submitted by Planning Direct, on behalf of the applicants Robert and Helen Williamson, says: "It is intended that the property will be rented out as a single let holiday accommodation to groups such as extended families from different households on a per-week or per-weekend basis, and no single sex groups would be booked.
"The property will not be sub-let on an individual basis and the length of each stay will not exceed 56 days."