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Former Norwich pub to be turned into student flats

PUBLISHED: 10:23 11 January 2018 | UPDATED: 19:09 11 January 2018

The former site of the Freed Man pub on St Mildred's Road, Norwich. Photo: Keith Whitmore

The former site of the Freed Man pub on St Mildred's Road, Norwich. Photo: Keith Whitmore

A closed Norwich pub is to be turned into flats for students.

The former Freed Man pub on St Mildreds Road in west Earlham has been empty for more than two years.

Last year, city-based developers Estateducation lodged plans with Norwich City Council seeking permission to convert and extend it into a 35-bed complex for students.

However, planners rejected the proposal in the summer, saying that, because the proposed development was so close to woodland at the back of the site, the rooms facing there would have “very poor levels of outlook and daylighting”.

They also said the “nuisance posed by the trees” would be “significant”.

However, Estateduction returned with a revised application, which was discussed today by the city council’s planning committee.

The number of beds was cut to 34, and developers said the revised proposal provided increased levels of light to all rooms, which meet and exceed minimum guidelines.

The applicant also cut back trees along the boundary of the site and pledged to maintain them.

Civic watchdog The Norwich Society objected, saying it was overdevelopment.

The Norwich and Norfolk branch of Camra objected to the original plans and the revised plans.

Richard Dixon, pub protection officer, said: “The Freed Man is the last public house in the immediate vicinity.

“The pub is surrounded by many houses with a population that would benefit from a public house.

“The retention of the building as a public house should be the priority of the council, rather than lose it to student accommodation, because, once lost it will never return.”

He said pubs the Earlham area had already lost included The Shoemakers, The Larkman, The Grove and The Good Companions.

City councillor Simeon Jackson raised concerns that the developer was trying to cram too much on the site.

He and Labour councillor Mike Sands also raised concerns over parking.

But members of the city council’s planning committee granted permission by nine votes to two.

Keith Driver, Labour councillor and planning committee chairman, said he though student housing made sense there.

He said: “It’s a great shame that the pub has shut down, but the trouble is the community wasn’t using it.”

The Freed Man, which was built in the 1950s, had been offered for sale from February 2016, but only three offers were received and these were not from public house operators.

Prior to that it had been offered for lease for a period of 32 months, without any success.

The Evening News has, through our Love Your Local campaign, urged people to make use of the city’s pubs, or risk losing them.

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