Former village pub and hotel all set for an exotic new use

White Lion House Wangford

White Lion House in Wangford, pictured in 2017. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A vacant former hotel looks set to get a new lease of life after plans for a specialist veterinary practice were given the green light.

A new facility is set to be unveiled for Suffolk Exotic Vet Services after a scheme was approved to convert a residential property and the former hotel that was previously a public house.

Plans centring around "conversion of the former hotel and residential property into a specialist exotics veterinary facility, with nurses accommodation on the first floor" at White Lion House on High Street in Wangford were submitted to East Suffolk Council in December.

The lion Wangford

The lion at White Lion House in Wangford, showing the need for the external remedial works. - Credit: ACD Projects Ltd

Over the years the pub was known as the Wangford Arms, the Lion Inn, the Red Lion and The White Lion pub until it closed in 1986 before becoming a residential property - White Lion House.

It was home to Lady Penelope Gilbey and her husband Anthony until he died in 2012 and Lady P died in November 2019.

A design and access statement submitted to the council by agents ACD Projects LTD, on behalf of the applicant Catherine Thomas - veterinary surgeon of Suffolk Exotic Vet Services - said: "The independent veterinary business has been operating out of Wangford Veterinary Clinic.

"The client is currently working as a separate exotic clinic but does not have enough space to keep up with demand for their service, hence the need to expand into their own practice."

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With a two-storey renovation of the existing building, a "new specialist veterinary practice" is proposed with a residential flat retained at first floor level "and a hydrotherapy area" in the outbuilding on site.

White Lion House outbuilding Wangford

The outbuilding at White Lion House in Wangford. - Credit: ACD Projects Ltd

It adds: "The proposed development will be used for veterinary purposes to provide an exceptional level of care for sick animals, focusing on the health, welfare and comfort of the animals and clients, while creating a suitable environment for overnight staff."

Its opening hours are proposed to be 8.30am to 6pm on weekdays, from 8.30am to noon on Saturdays and "an out-of-hours service in the case of emergencies."

The scheme was "permitted" under delegated powers on January 25.

The front of the White Lion House from yester-year.

The front of the White Lion House from yester-year. - Credit: Google Images

A report from a delegated officer at the council recommended that planning permission be granted subject to conditions.