Campaigners call for bid to turn Norwich pub into flats to be rejected
- Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers
A bid to turn a closed Norwich pub into student flats has sparked an objection by the city branch of the Campaign for Real Ale.
And Norwich City Council's own expert has concerns over proposals to transform the Freed Man pub in west Earlham.
The pub has been shut since June 2015 and Norwich-based developers Estateducation has lodged plans with City Hall seeking permission to convert it.
The developers also want to add buildings in the pub's car park, to create accommodation for 38 students.
Developers say the design of the new buildings will reflect the current design at the University of East Anglia.
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They say the existing pub building, which dates back to the 1950s, will still be prominent in the redevelopment, but will be refurbished.
Documents lodged with the council in support of the application state that, when the property, in St Mildred's Road, was marketed last year, there was no interest from public house operators, only from people looking to convert it.
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But Neil Bowers, pubs protection officer for the Norwich and Norfolk branch of CAMRA, has objected to the proposal.
He said: 'Although this pub has been closed for a number of years, there is potential for this to become a well run pub again.
'Pubs are the centre of the community, where people socialise and come together for a drink.
'Norwich used to be known for having a pub for every day of the year, sadly in 2017 there are less than 200 pubs that are now open in our fine city.
'It would be a shame if another pub was turned into student accommodation.'
Camra has started a process to try to get the Freed Man declared as an asset of community value.
That would give the local community six months to buy it to stop it being developed.
And Sally Ward, the council's own landscape architect, said she did not think the development was acceptable in its current form. She said not enough consideration had been given to how the site 'interfaces' with Bunkers Hill wood.
The city council will make a decision in the months ahead.
The Evening News has, through our Love Your Local campaign, been urging people to make use of their local pubs, or risk losing them.