October 25 2014 Latest news:
By RICHARD WOOD
Friday, October 5, 2012
A prominent town centre pub and hotel will finally open again next year, two-and-a-half years after it was first boarded up.
The King’s Head Hotel in Beccles has been left virtually untouched since being bought and then closed for redevelopment in August 2010, but this week there was excitement in the town as work outside started.
Scaffolding has been put up around the 16th century pub and owners JD Wetherspoon has given a provisional opening date of February 12 as they have pledged to invest more than £1 million, with the hope of creating about 40 full- and part-time jobs.
Mayor Graham Catchpole said that it was a huge bonus to the town and added that he was very relieved that the work has started.
“It will bring the heart back into the town. It has been missing that pulse in the town centre, that focal point,” he said.
“I am very relieved that finally they have started it. We have pushed as hard as we could and finally we have got there. I think it will be worth the wait in the end, I’ve seen the plans and it looks good. It is going to be unrecognisable.”
The hotel and pub sections are expected to open at the same time, with the hotel entrance from Smallgate.
Mr Catchpole said: “That will be another huge bonus. We are desperately short of beds in the town, with people having to go to Lowestoft or further afield when they want to stay in Beccles.” He added that it was a double boost with Roys soon to open the former Rainbow Store in Gosford Road on Friday, October 19.
“It really brings the centre back to life. I’m relieved that has not gone the same way, as that could have stayed empty.”
Christine Pinsent, of the Beccles Business Association, added: “I hope it brings people back into the centre of the town and boosts the local economy.
“It really should bring something back that has been lost.”
The town’s landmark pub was boarded up in August 2010 when JD Wetherspoon bought it.
There have been numerous calls for efforts to be made to improve the visual appearance of the building as it was labelled an “eyesore”.
In July last year it was revealed that work could not start until asbestos was removed from the site, while there were further concerns earlier this year when the company announced it was to open a pub in Lowestoft. But despite the lack of action outside, the company has always stated its commitment to the town.
Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson said: “We are delighted to have started building work on our new pub in Beccles.
“We are looking forward to opening and are confident that the pub will prove a great success and be a great addition to the town.”
The chain is also opening a new pub in Fakenham next year, while it is also looking at new premises in Cromer, Diss and Lowestoft.
A £2m plan to transform Palmers department store in Dereham and a neighbouring eyesore into an upmarket supermarket and clothing shop has been confirmed.