Doubt over pub re-opening plans
The future of a Norfolk pub which has closed four times in the past three years could be in doubt after villagers voted overwhelmingly against a developer's plan for homes in its grounds.
THE future of a Norfolk pub which has closed four times in the past three years could be in doubt after villagers voted overwhelmingly against a developer's plan for homes in its grounds.
North Walsham-based developer Robert Scammell bought the Ploughshare Pub in Beeston at auction earlier this year and has applied for outline planning permission to build three homes in the pub's grounds while retaining and adding an extension to the pub.
He says building the homes will fund major work needed on the pub which dates back to the 17th century.
But villagers have flooded Breckland Council with objections.
And last Tuesday about 30 people attended an open parish meeting to talk about the plans.
Brian Leigh, clerk to the parish council, said the overwhelming concern, supported by the parish council, was that the pub would not be retained once the three homes were built and would end up being developed too.
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Villagers' opposition to the plans meant prospective landlord John Marshall, who attended the meeting, has now dropped out, saying he had been 'demoralised by the apathy' of the villagers.
'A lot of the feeling was because he is a property developer and that his aim is to develop the whole site,' said Mr Leigh. 'They feel it is better to object to this application and sit back and see what happens.
'It is difficult because they could lose the pub anyway.'
However, Mr Scammell, who has a general portfolio of property from homes and holiday lets to offices, cafes and a planned restaurant in North Walsham, said: 'I don't personally want to run a pub but I am committed to keeping it open. I don't want to be the person who shuts the pub, I want to save it.
'We have done this before but there has to be a compromise for investment.'
John Kinnaird, a former parish councillor and school governor in the village, was one of those at the meeting.
'I feel really strongly about this,' he said. 'Once the houses are built the pub will be finished. We have just lost our shop and post office. It is just an erosion of rural services. We are then left with a school and it will become a satellite village.'
The pub's recent chequered past has seen it sell for between �208,000 and �500,000 in the past few years.
It almost closed twice in 2005, shut in October 2006 to reopen the next month, closed weeks later when its owner Countrywide Inns folded and then reopened again before Christmas the same year.
It closed again in 2007 only to reopen but shut once again earlier this year.