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Mystery surrounds the future of pub at Norwich beauty spot

PUBLISHED: 08:42 25 February 2018 | UPDATED: 11:54 25 February 2018

Mystery continues to surround the future of a Norwich pub which stands empty at a beauty spot in the Lakenham area.

The Cock, situated by the river in Long John Hill, was last May was listed as an “asset of community value” after the Norwich and Norfolk branch of CAMRA made the case for it.

But despite this it remains vacant and fenced off - and people living nearby fear it could fall to rack and ruin if the site is not brought back into some kind of use soon.

It has also been the target of a recent break-in with police called out to the pub on February 14 to find the rear door had been forced open and radiators and copper piping had been taken from the property.

Last year the pub was the subject of a planning application to convert it into a home and build further homes on the site. However, this was withdrawn, and Building Plans Ltd - who had been acting for the undisclosed client on the application - has said it is not aware of any immediate plans for a new application to be submitted in the near future.

The Cock Pub, in Long John Hill, Lakenham. Photo: Emma KnightsThe Cock Pub, in Long John Hill, Lakenham. Photo: Emma Knights

For those living nearby the site is a source of frustration.

Lorna Gillin, 58, who lives in Sunny Hill, said: “It is such an eyesore now in such a lovely part of Lakenham. It used to be lovely in the summer with people sitting by the river...I just do not want to see it rot away. The people who have bought it should really do something about it.”

Sue Lemmon, 60, from Long John Hill, also described it as “a bit of an eyesore.”

“It’s sad really because it’s [going to] rack and ruin...It would be nice to get it sorted out,” she said. “I used to have brilliant nights down there, there used to be music and entertainment, but I think those days are gone now.”

She added she thought it could be a good location for a shop or restaurant.

Harriet Mobbs, 35, also of Long John Hill, said: “It’s just not nice it being empty for so long...at least if there were houses on there, that would be something, as long as it is done nicely, rather than it just sitting there doing nothing.”

Her next-door neighbour Tim Guy, 38, said: “I’ve not really got a strong opinion because I know these things take a good while to develop. I would have liked to have seen a successful pub reopen down there.”

Further up Long John Hill, Joanne Yates, 53, said she thought housing could be a good use for the site.

“It (the pub) was absolutely lovely at one point but not enough people used it...it’s such a waste to sit there as it is now. It’s just going to fall to bits,” she said.

HISTORY OF THE COCK PUB IN LAKENHAM

Lakenham’s The Cock pub dates back to the 17th century.

It was the subject of a significant fire in 1908 when a nearby mill caught fire and sparks landed on the thatched roof. This led to an extensive rebuilding of The Cock but many original features remain.

The pub was formally listed as an asset of community value (ACV) on May 16 2017 after Norwich and Norfolk CAMRA made the case for it. This listing lasts until May 2022 and means the owner must inform the council if they intend to sell the property, so that community groups have the chance to bid for it.

However, the current owner bought the pub from Enterprise Inns before the listing was made. The owner, represented by Building Plans Ltd, last year submitted an application to demolish part of the building, convert it to a home and build over the pub garden with eight more homes - but this application was later withdrawn.

The Norwich and Norfolk branch of CAMRA had strongly objected to the housing plans and at the time the branch’s pub protection officer said that “there is no other pub like this within the area.”

The Yare Valley Society and civic watchdog The Norwich Society had also objected to the plans.

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