Couple sell pub with Nelson link after council stops project

The Black Swan in Little Dunham is run by Richard and Nicola Ward. Picture: Ian Burt

The Black Swan in Little Dunham. It is for sale now after its owners tried to turn it into a family home. - Credit: Archant

A couple who wanted to turn a village pub in to a home are selling up after the council scuppered their plans. 

Richard and Nicola Ward put in a planning application to convert the Black Swan, Little Dunham, near Swaffham into a house but got their bid turned down.

The Black Swan in Little Dunham is run by Richard and Nicola Ward. Picture: Ian Burt

Richard and Nicola Ward, pictured when they took over the Black Swan in Little Dunham. - Credit: Archant

The pub, which is the only one in the village, dates from the 1740s and is believed to have been bought by William Nelson, the great-uncle of Admiral Lord Nelson. It is now on the market for £249,950.

Such was the local interest in the couple's bid, a public meeting was held by Little Dunham parish council in July 2019.

The issue of the pub being converted was debated and even a suggestion made that it could be taken over as a community project. In the end the Wards' bid to convert the pub to residential was rejected by the parish council.


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In turn, Breckland Council refused planning stating their plans to extend it into a family home would "result in the loss of a local community building, to the detriment of the function and well-being of the local community". 

The Black Swan in Little Dunham is run by Richard and Nicola Ward. Picture: Ian Burt

The Black Swan in Little Dunham, for sale. - Credit: Archant

But all this happened before Covid and now the pub is unable to open and on the market. In its current form it offers a two bedroom living accommodation, bar, restaurant area and a large car park.

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Simon Fowler, Little Dunham parish council chairman, said despite Covid, he did know of two requests to open up a pop-up service using the pub at weekends. "The village needs a pub and it will be supported when it reopens. Now it is realistically priced there has been some interest."

When the couple first took over the pub, they started a café and book exchange, supported and part-funded by rural pub champions, Pub is The Hub. The Wards also made extensive structural improvements and invested considerable time and  money in the building. 

The nearest pub is in Necton, about two-three miles away.

This newspaper contacted the Wards for comment.


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