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North Norfolk District Council planners set to save Hare and Hounds pub at Hempstead from conversion into home

PUBLISHED: 11:57 15 September 2012

The North Norfolk District Council offices at Cromer.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

The North Norfolk District Council offices at Cromer. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2011

A north Norfolk village pub looks set to survive another bid to turn it into a home.

North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) planners are being recommended to refuse an application to convert the Hare and Hounds, at Hempstead.

The move would please parish councillors in nearby Baconsthorpe and nine residents who have all written letters strongly objecting to Valerie Purkiss’s application.

A similar bid was refused and dismissed on appeal in 2008. This time council officers again say that they have not been persuaded that the pub, which closed in 2010, is not viable.

A report to Thursday’s development committee said Mrs Purkiss had failed to show that for at least a year she had used all reasonable efforts to sell or let the property at a realistic price.

Its disappearance, according to the report, would result in the loss of an important social and community facility.

Objectors have pointed out that the pub was the last one serving Baconsthorpe, Hempstead, Plumstead and Matlaske.

Baconsthorpe Parish Council’s objection said the owners had “made it fairly clear” they intended to shut the pub eventually, opening times were “erratic” and the council refuted suggestions that parking was a problem, saying the pub had a large car park.

In a letter supporting her application, Mrs Purkiss said they bought the pub in 2005 but were forced to shut in 2010 and had only kept it running as long as they did by subsidising the business from their own funds.

They had appealed for public support following their 2008 change-of-use application but it had failed to materialise.

“We rarely reached 20 locals a week, even in the summer most of our custom was from tourists,” she said.

The business had been on sale for four-and-a-half years and the undisclosed price had been lowered but enquiries had only come from those who wanted to convert it into a home and no offers had been made.

She also blamed the pub’s isolation and factors including competition from supermarkets selling cheap alcohol, the drink-drive laws, recession and cost of fuel which had all helped drive many pubs out of business.

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