BUSINESSES in Braintree have hit out at plans to turn a High Street bar into flats.

Bar Sport at 81-83 High Street closed its doors in April last year after just six months in business.

Pebworth Property Management has now applied to turn the empty venue into nine flats with a ground floor having flexible retail use back in November.

Planning officers had set a determination deadline of February 2 so a decision is now overdue by two months.

Stuart Buckley, owner of the Boars Head pub, is concerned that if the old venue is converted into flats it will affect his business, which plays live music twice a week and has a jam night once a fortnight.

He said: ""They are threatening our livelihoods and my employee's jobs.

"We do live music here and live music is quite noisy.

"We do try and keep a check on the level to make sue it's not too loud but when you're talking about putting nine flats on the High Street it's supposed to be somewhere for commerce not somewhere people live.

"There's no parking and what's concerning me is that as soon as they move here they are going to be hearing live music.

"Dwellings and pubs don't mix well and we are licensed until 1am.

"It concerns me that there's going to be a noise pollution issue, who would want to live next to a pub?"

The flexible retail use means that the ground floor could be home to a variety of business uses, including shops; financial and professional; restaurants and cafes; drinking establishments; hot food take aways or non-residential institution, which could include a health centre or a nursery.

Brenda Baker, manager of George Yard, does not want to see vital retail premises lost in the town centre.

She said: "How will residents access the road? There will be lots of traffic going backwards and forwards and I don't want a service charge to keep the road in use.

"George Yard has not received an application for permission to access across the pavement and road which are held in the centre's private demise.

"The pavement and road are private property and not adopted by Essex County Council.

"Traders in the town centre are not unreasonably concerned to maintain business usages on the front of the High Street."