The Chestnut Group, which acquired Ounce House in Bury St Edmund’s Northgate Street in January 2015, has been given planning permission to proceed with the transformation of the red brick, gable-ended, three-storey property, into a boutique hotel with nine en-suite bedrooms.
The proposed plans for the hotel were approved by St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s development control committee on Thursday 3rd December. Work can now begin on this, the third business in the growing hospitality group, which will create approximately 26 new jobs for the town.
Set back from the road and a five-minute walk from the abbey and pedestrianised shopping streets in the centre of Bury St Edmunds, the hotel will now undergo a complete refurbishment to provide much-needed additional quality accommodation for the Suffolk town.
Chestnut Managing Director Philip Turner is delighted: “It has been a challenging time but the important thing is that we have the right result. We have listened to the concerns of the
neighbours and have amended the plans accordingly where the suggestions were feasible but still commercial.
We have also taken on board the very constructive communications we have had with officials responsible for the continuing development of Bury St Edmunds, as both a tourist destination and a great place to work and live. This means that this is a very considered and well-thought-out development and we now look forward to focussing our energy on revitalising a rather tired building into a vibrant boutique hotel to be enjoyed by both residents of, and visitors to, the beautiful historic town which is Bury St Edmunds.”
Group General Manager Steve Smith, who joined the group in September, midway through the planning process, is also keen to start on the new project. Steve was previously with Sodexo Prestige where he was responsible for looking after the St Edmundsbury Collection, including The Apex, The Athenaeum and The Abbey Gardens. “The fact that in overseeing Ounce House, I would still be very much involved with Bury St Edmunds, was one of the attractions of the job with the Chestnut. I know Bury St Edmunds well and I look forward to once again being an active member of its thriving business community.”
The Chestnut Group’s continuing strategy is to identify freehold sites in the East Anglian region, which as a result of under capital investment, are not delivering their full potential. A site in Bury St Edmunds was the logical location for Chestnut’s third business. It is close enough to The Packhorse Inn in Moulton and The Rupert Brooke in Grantchester to be part of an operational support structure and yet far enough away from the other two to have its own customer base and target market. Bury St Edmunds is growing both as a hub for tourism in the region as well as being recognised as a focus for the promotion of great Suffolk food and drink. Locally sourced food, great service and a traditional role at the heart of the community are cornerstones of what the Chestnut Group is all about.
Work will begin immediately on a significant refurbishment of the Bury St Edmunds property to provide a bar, dining, private dining, meeting room facilities and boutique accommodation, all in keeping with the values and style already established by the existing businesses. It is scheduled to open in the summer 2016.
The Chestnut Group was established in May 2012 by former banker and corporate financier Philip Turner, with the vision to create a family of hostelries under the Chestnut umbrella, which defy pigeon-holing into the standard classifications of pub, hotel or restaurant, but is simply synonymous with a great experience. Key to its development strategy is identifying freehold sites in the region, which as a result of under capital investment, are not delivering their full potential. Chestnut’s' first site, The Packhorse Inn near Newmarket, opened October 2013. The second, The Rupert Brooke in Grantchester, was ready for business October 2014. The new project in Bury St Edmunds will be its third site. www.thechestnutgroup.co.uk