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The Swan Inn pub in Sturry to be restored by Junior King's School in Canterbury

A historic village pub which has stood empty for a decade is set to be restored to its former glory - by one of Kent's most prestigious private schools.

The Swan Inn in Sturry High Street, near Canterbury, called last orders for the final time in 2011 and has been vacant ever since.

The Swan Inn in Sturry
The Swan Inn in Sturry

But The Junior King's School wants to transform it into "the premier licensed premises in the village" - by relaunching it as a pub and bed-and-breakfast.

The £9,000-a-term school purchased the Grade II-listed site, parts of which are thought to date back to the 1400s, several years ago.

The boarded-up tavern had deteriorated over the years and been targeted by vandals but has recently undergone renovation.

Last year, The Junior King's School was granted permission to transform the Swan Inn's ground floor into a café, with accommodation for school staff upstairs.

But new plans show the private co-ed now wants to relaunch it as a pub, while developing the restaurant side of the business and letting out rooms to tourists.

The boarded-up Swan Inn in Sturry
The boarded-up Swan Inn in Sturry

It hopes to build a single-storey block in the pub grounds that will house six double bedrooms; along with a two-storey extension behind the main building that would accommodate a kitchen, storage and staff facilities.

It also intends to revamp the inn's outside areas and to resurface the car park, keeping its current capacity of about 12 cars.

But the application has already been met with several objections.

Sturry Parish Council says there is "insufficient off-road parking" to accommodate both bed-and-breakfast guests and pub visitors.

The plans would see the pub open at 10am each day, with the option of staying open until 1.30am on Fridays and Saturdays and until midnight the rest of the week.

The Swan Inn, Sturry, in 1900. Picture: Rory Kehoe/Dover Kent Archives
The Swan Inn, Sturry, in 1900. Picture: Rory Kehoe/Dover Kent Archives

But the parish council says the proposed weekend opening hours are "excessive for a premises in a residential area".

Sturry resident Garry Smith echoes these concerns, describing the parking as "woefully inadequate for a development of this size".

"The proposed late-night opening on Friday and Saturday nights will be intolerable, with the inevitable shouting, doors slamming and loud engines," he added, suggesting a midnight closing time would be more appropriate.

"This is a large-scale development of a historic listed building that will undoubtedly spoil the character and heritage of the building forever."

But the applicant says the pub would be a "quality business" that it hopes would "become part of the local scene with an image befitting the character of old Sturry village".

A postcard featuring the historic inn, circa 1906. Picture: Rory Kehoe/Dover Kent Archives
A postcard featuring the historic inn, circa 1906. Picture: Rory Kehoe/Dover Kent Archives

The applicant says the designs incorporate "traditional forms and materials, so that the development would fit into the existing fabric of the village".

It adds: "It is anticipated that any parking required in connection with the rooms will only occur overnight and in the late evening, when the car park is otherwise not used by pub customers."

The Junior King's School hopes the historic inn will function "very much as it did prior to closing down in 2011".

But it hopes that focusing more on food and offering bed-and-breakfast facilities will provide a more economically viable business model than that of a traditional pub.

"The intention is that the reinvigorated Swan Inn would act as a focus for the village but also be attractive as a base for tourists wishing to visit Canterbury and east Kent," say the plans.

If given the green light, the business would employ five to 10 people and would "represent a significant investment in the local economy of Sturry, bringing trade, employment and staying tourists to the village environment", it adds.

The plans are available to view on the city council's planning website, under reference CA/20/02882.

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