Homes plans for Douglas Bader’s former north Norfolk watering hole

The owner of a north Norfolk watering hole once frequented by war hero Douglas Bader has applied to turn the building in to homes.

An application has been made to North Norfolk District Council to convert The Scottow Three Horseshoes pub, a barn and the former Oddfellows Hall in to two homes.

The thatched 18th-century pub stands beside the B1150, near former Battle of Britain station RAF Coltishall, and was once the haunt of second world war air crew, including flying-ace Bader.

It has been closed since it was shut at short notice in June last year by former owners Punch Taverns when the licensee decided to leave the business.

Current owner Matthew Starling, who owns Starlings Haulage and The Orchard Gardens Bar, both in North Walsham, said he had hoped to re-open the business but the building was so run down it wasn't economically viable. He said he had consulted Scottow residents about his latest plans and the response had been mostly positive.

'It is very difficult' he said. 'A lot of money needs spending on it that wasn't initially apparent.

'We are in a double dip recession and things are not improving at all. The viability of pubs in general has got to be questioned. 'That specific village relies on local trade and if we were going to make a success of it we would be taking trade from existing premises in the area.'

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The pub, barn and former Oddfellows Hall were all once separate buildings but have since all become joined by later additions.

Mr Starling plans to separate the buildings by demolishing the later additions, including both the flat roof extension at the rear of the pub plus the later extension to the gable of Oddfellows Hall, to create the two dwellings. Original features of the listed building, including the two inglenook fireplaces and some doors, will be retained. Features that have been removed or obscured would be reinstated, including the lantern lights in the roof of the hall.

He said the structure of the building was generally sound but the internal decoration had suffered from decades in the hands of pub companies who hadn't invested in it.

He added that he had conducted a survey in the local community before making the decision to apply for change of use and found people didn't spend money in pubs and restaurants to the extent they used to.

'The pub has history but so do many pubs because they have been a focal point for the community in the past,' he said. 'It isn't great but I don't suppose there is an alternative. I can't put thousands of pounds in to a project that will not pay dividends in the future.'

Simon Shaw, chairman of Scottow Parish Council, said: 'For a village to lose its pub is a great shame. It is a key part of Scottow village.'