Brighter future beckons for pub as development plans finally approved
- Credit: Ian Burt
A rural pub's long-term future looks more secure after a council planning committee approved a scheme to generate further investment in the business.
Breckland's planners went against officer recommendation to give the go ahead to a proposal for five affordable homes, new village shop and reconfigured parking and beer garden area at The Lodge in North Tuddenham.
The scheme had the backing of the parish council and many residents but a previous application was refused by planners in May this year.
A report to the planning committee said there was not enough evidence to support the pub's claim that its future was at risk if the proposal was not granted approval, that it was outside the settlement boundary and it was in an unsustainable location.
Landlady Vikki King and owners Norfolk Holdings argued that the scheme would allow continued investment in the pub, a valued village asset.
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At the meeting Mrs King pointed out that the council had previously approved planning permission for holiday lets on the same site, currently the car park, and they could still be built.
'To lose the car park would be massively detrimental to the Lodge,' she said. 'A rural pub relies on people driving out to it and car parking is needed to make it viable.
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'Putting a shop on the side of the pub will also help create community. The five houses will mean potentially five more families using the pub and the shop.'
District councillor Gordon Bambridge said it was a 'complex' application.
'I am quite disturbed that the holiday lets were not put on the (agenda report) papers as part of the application history,' he said. 'It is a community asset and will be improved with a new shop.'
Agent Erica Whettingsteel said the applicant had already made significant investment in the pub.
'The objective was to come up with something to make the whole site work,' she said. 'This is about making a community at the centre of North Tuddenham.'
The application was approved by eight votes to three.
Committee member William Richmond said it should be approved on grounds that it would contribute to Breckland's five-year housing land supply and was supporting sustainable rural communities.