It’s time to rethink redundant buildings and merge old with new

PUBLISHED: 14:57 23 August 2017 | UPDATED: 14:57 23 August 2017

Terry Huggins, manager of the church trading company, at the Mitre pub and café which has reopened in Earlham Road by St Thomas Church. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Terry Huggins, manager of the church trading company, at the Mitre pub and café which has reopened in Earlham Road by St Thomas Church. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2017

Has anyone visited the new pub named The Mitre on Earlham Road yet? It was bought in 2016 for £500,000 by none other than St Thomas church situated next door and they are delighted with their purchase.

Once offered for sale in 1859 advertised as “Well suited for a genteel family” it has since been a pub and more recently a Chinese takeaway. As of the 14th August The Mitre opened as a café, pub, bistro and restaurant. As time passes they will increase their opening hours.

It is a non-profit run venture but any money made will be donated to charities at the discretion of the church. They also offer groups to meet for social and other needs bringing vulnerable and the elderly people together and improving the quality of their day.

We have so many ancient buildings around Norwich and what a brilliant idea for a wider selection of buyers with new and different ideas to help and benefit society as well as preserve and maintain these listed properties.

I have been told that Norwich has a pub for every day of the year and a church for every week of the year!!! I am not sure if this is still the case. Could Norwich really have 365 pubs and 52 churches?

I know there is a pub in Eaton which has taken on the village post office when it closed two years ago.

It has become hugely beneficial for the local community and more besides to have somewhere that has parking and good service with the added bonus of more flexible and longer opening hours and it stops the need to go into the city when one requires the post office service.

Cutting down on volumes of traffic and saves the environment from unnecessary pollution. And helping the elderly to maintain their independence while keeping a vital line of communication open to them. This is very important on so many levels. It also means that customers may bump into a friend and decide to enjoy a cup of coffee together or lunch.

It is such a great idea and appears to be doing very well.

There are of course churches in Norwich city centre that house antique shops, cafes and meeting places.

I think it so much better to use the buildings we have than the constant need to start building new ones. How can we advertise and project the positivity in rekindling old buildings and making something new out of something old? How do we attract clients and buyers to take on something traditional and make it their own?

I had a look around Norwich for other regeneration projects and of course remembered hearing about the old shoe factories in St Marys Plain, I believe these factories closed around 1976 and were in operation for nearly 100 years.

It will be a totally new constructed site knocking down large ugly unused buildings from the 1960s but keeping as much history as possible providing a variation of modern living with the three churches marking the boundary of the new area called The Shoe Quarter.

It looks as if it is possible to merge old with new, bringing them together and keeping the best bits from the past together with the knowledge of the future and so I thought until a friend informed me as a relatively newcomer to Norfolk that the supermarket which opened on Hall Road a couple of years ago was built on the site of another shoe factory which closed around 15 years ago.

When I drove passed recently I saw that the pub which has also been constructed on the same site is called “The Shoemakers” I smiled with some irony at this very modern drinking establishment and its tentative attempt to claim a link to a bygone era and couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry.

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