Plans entered for hotel to be turned into drug rehabilitation centre
- Credit: Archant
Residents have been accused of failing to support a revamped hotel, which could now be turned into a drug rehabilitation centre.
The owner of the Watton by Verve Hotel, formerly known as the Hare and Barrel, has resubmitted controversial plans to change the building, despite its £1m refurbishment less than a year ago. It comes after a previous planning application was lodged in 2018 for a rehab centre, but was eventually withdrawn after objections from within the community, and calls for the pub to be returned.
But now new plans have been have been lodged by the Hare and Barrel owner, Verve Hotels, and Step Together Drug and Alcohol Rehab in Nottingham, to turn the site into a privately-run residential care facility.
On Breckland Council’s planning portal, the documents state: “The hotel was closed until it was refurbished in an attempt to increase trade and was re-opened in June 2019.
“Unfortunately, the level of occupancy remains below 60pc, which means that the one-million-pound investment will not be recouped as a hotel for an extremely long period of time and alternative long-term viable use is now necessary.
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“The local community has not supported the hotel despite previous promises that they would once the refurbishment works were completed.”
MORE: Norfolk hotel to reopen after £1m investmentBut residents said they had seen vast improvements at the former pub since Christmas and claimed that it had not been given enough time to turn the business around.
One resident, who lives on Brandon Road, said: “This has come out of the blue, we thought the whole thing was settled. We have been over to eat and taken friends. Things had picked up hugely.
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“After the original application in 2018, we had a public meeting which was packed and the feelings were very strongly against it. It was very controversial.
“But now it has been resubmitted we can’t hold a public meeting or anything - taking advantage of tricky times.”
Another resident on Brandon Road said: “The decision should be at least delayed until the country is fully operational again and we can talk with our neighbours. It isn’t fair for it to go through in these troubled times.”