Residents pack a punch to save their local pub from demolition

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A community’s battle to save a once-popular pub from demolition has ended in victory for residents.

The Parks Trust’s planning application to bulldoze the Suffolk Punch on Heelands was due to be considered tonight (Thursday) by councillors.

Milton Keynes council officers had recommended the controversial bid be refused because it would be contrary to the MK Local Plan.

As a result, in a sudden U turn, the Parks Trust withdrew the planning application on Wednesday morning, just 32 hours before the meeting.

Residents, together with Lib Dem councillor Robin Bradburn, had been battling to save the rundown pub since it was closed down last year after the brewery lease ended.

They feared the Parks Trust would build new homes on the site, which includes a large car park.

“We think the council would be crazy to allow the building to be demolished without knowing what will be built there instead,” said one protestor.

Local people want the building to be retained and, if it cannot be re-opened as a pub, converted to a meeting place for community use.

The estate already has one meeting hall but it is always fully booked, say residents.

The council officers’ report advised against demolishing the pub - mainly because the Parks Trust had not revealed what it planned to do with the site afterwards.

The report stated: “It would result in the loss of a public house which is a community facility. It has not been demonstrated that there is no longer a need for the facility for any type of community use.”

Chair of the Development Control committee Councillor Andrew Geary said: “Cleary the officer’s recommendation was balanced but we would have considered all the evidence before us on the night.”