Swaffham pub could be turned into housing

Chris HillThe owners of a Swaffham pub have drafted plans to see whether councillors will agree to the principle of converting the building into a house.Chris Hill

The owners of a Swaffham pub have drafted plans to see whether councillors will agree to the principle of converting the building into a house.

The Norfolk Hero, on Station Street, is the subject of an outline application submitted to Breckland Council by landlady Jane Green.

The draft proposals are to convert the pub for residential use, with part of an existing rear extension demolished to maximise the size of the garden. Meanwhile, a new detached house is proposed to be built on the current car park.

Although the ideas are at a very early stage, pub campaigners said they were saddened at the possibility that the Norfolk Hero could become one of the 39 pubs estimated to be closing every week across the country.

A design statement submitted by Swaffham-based planning consultants Parsons and Whittley said its brief was 'to establish the principal for development of the land adjacent to the existing public house, together with the change of use of the existing public house to a residential dwelling.'

No specific details have been submitted about the design of the proposed house, but the planning statement says it would reflect the appearance of the pub.

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The plans also suggest the conversion of a two-storey outbuilding as a secure garage with a separate annexe, which could contain a home gym or playroom.

If the plans come to fruition, the new house would be accessible from Station Street while the converted pub would be served by a new driveway off Back Terrace. The planning statement says the proposal 'would not significantly adversely affect the character or amenity of the locality or setting of the town'.

Mrs Green declined to comment on the application before a decision on it has been made.

Roger Cawdron, chairman of the East Anglian branch of the British Institute of Innkeepers and landlord at the Ribs of Beef pub, in Norwich, said: 'If this pub were to close, it would be very bad news.

'It is a very difficult time for pubs. We all have to find a unique selling point, whether it is by specialising in real ale or wines, or different types of foods. Another major problem we face is the price of alcohol in supermarkets.

'There are grants available to turn these places into post offices or shops or some other means of keeping the pub going, but they may have been removed with all the government cutbacks.'

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