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"It is part of the heritage of the village" - fears over bid to demolish historic Kessingland pub site

Kings Head public house, Kessingland.

Kings Head public house, Kessingland.

©Archant2015

"Where do you draw the line between heritage and housing?" That is the question being asked by residents after proposals were this week made to demolish a much-loved historic village pub and turn it into housing.

Badger Building, an independent new home builder based in Lowestoft, has submitted a planning application to Waveney District Council to get rid of the old King’s Head pub in the village’s High Street and put seven terraced properties and a pair of semi-detached properties in its place.

It says the fact the pub, which dates back to the 1700s and was the place where the Suffolk Humane Society - which later became part of the RNLI - was founded, has been closed for two years and only been operated intermittently in the past five years has shown owners “could not make a living from the site”.

The firm also says there are a number of other pubs in the village to cater for residents, including bars at holiday sites, with land and planning mannager Edward Gilder saying it would not make economic sense to convert the building and keep its original facade. He also believes building new properties would make them more affordable and energy efficient to live in.

But Kessingland Parish Council chairman Liam Martin said: “Our concern at the moment is that they are planning to demolish a building that has sat in the village for the best part of 400 years.

“It is part of the heritage of the village and should be looked upon like that, not just got rid of.

“I know there is a housing shortage but where do you draw the line between heritage and housing?”

He added that the pub “has got quite a lot of history behind it”, including a remarkable incident in 1805 where a man believed to be dead after being brought in from a vessel which had got into trouble at sea was taken back to the pub - only for it to be discovered he was still alive.

The incident won villagers an award from the Royal Humane Society and led to the creation of the Suffolk Humane Society in 1806.

It was later decided to be taken on by the RNLI in 1875, meaning the pub has some of the most historic links to the lifeboat charity.

In more recent times it was marketed as a pub with “great food” and a wide range of entertainment for the whole family - but closed two years ago and has since been on the market for between £240,000 to £260,000. Attempts were made last year for the King’s Head to get official listed building status from English Heritage. That failed - but Mr Martin still believes the site is an important heritage asset and that keeping its original fabric is crucial.

Residents with views about the scheme are encouraged to submit their comments online by visiting http://apps.waveney.gov.uk/pages/publicaccess/ and searching reference number DC/15/0747/FUL.

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