A FOOD and drink firm’s plans to demolish a disused pub and replace it with offices have been turned down by Braintree Council.

The bid to build the complex at the Bird in Hand, between Coggeshall and Earls Colne, was rejected by planners.

Planning officers had recommended that Halstead-based Brands Direct’s proposal should be turned down because the complex was “not sensitive” to its surroundings and would have a negative effect on the rural character of the area.

Brands Direct owner Graham Kent told the meeting: “Our new office proposal ensures current local employment and new local employment for the expanding villages.

“The simple fact is that our application is supported by Government departments.

“Our business cannot stand still. Our customers and suppliers are very important to our business and we have to move forward.”

But the planning committee said the proposed 828sqm, U-shaped, single-storey building would have a “detrimental impact” on open countryside. Planning boss Gabrielle Spray said: “It is mentioned the Earls Colne Business Park is nearby and for me that is rather the point.

“That is an allocated employment and business site and operates very successfully.

“The size and scale and the impact on the land are for me unacceptable – I don’t think it fits the location.”

Most of the committee agreed the Bird in Hand was no longer viable as a public house and that demolition was appropriate, but councillors said “the harms of the development” outweighed the benefits of the Brands Direct proposals.