Campaigners fighting to save The Ploughshare pub at Beeston despite application to build homes on site

The residents of Beeston and the surrounding areas are campaigning to buy The Ploughshare pub. Pictu

The residents of Beeston and the surrounding areas are campaigning to buy The Ploughshare pub. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Campaigners fighting to save a 16th century village pub remain in confident mood, despite news that a planning application to build three homes on the site has been submitted.

Boxing legend Jem Mace, who once lived next to the pub and organised boxing contests in the car park

Boxing legend Jem Mace, who once lived next to the pub and organised boxing contests in the car park. - Credit: Archant

The application has been sent to Breckland Council to redevelop the site of The Ploughshare at Beeston, near Dereham.

The pub has been closed since last January and, in March, Beeston residents formed a campaign group which aims to reopen the venue and run it as a community asset.

Campaigners established the not-for-profit company Beeston Community Enterprises in May.

About 40 people are directly involved in the campaign and, so far, £185,000 has been raised.

Henry Dennett, chairman of Beeston Community Enterprises, said: 'We are not massively surprised that this application has gone in and we were expecting it to happen at some point.

'We will now robustly oppose it through the planning process.

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'We are meeting next week to discuss exactly how we go about it. We hope to get the support of the parish council.

'The owner will need to get permission for change of use of the site and we are hopeful that Breckland Council won't approve it.'

He added: 'The campaign has been going well; we've raised a lot of money and we're still confident that it will be a success.'

The Ploughshare has a fascinating history.

It is located next to the one-time home of legendary 19th century boxing world champion Jem Mace, who is credited with revolutionising his sport.

He used to organise boxing contests in the pub's car park.

The pub was also the regular watering hole for airmen from the American Airforce 392nd Bombardment Group during the Second World War and is rumoured to be haunted.

A covering letter, submitted with the application to Breckland Council, states: 'The pub has been advertised for over a year and there have been no viable offers.

'There is interest from a local group but it seems unlikely that they will be able to raise the necessary funds in addition to the extra working capital that will be needed to refurbish and restore the pub.'

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