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Historic hotel set to close and be turned into flats

PUBLISHED: 08:59 25 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:38 25 February 2020

Howard and Helen Fradley have run the Castle Hotel in Downham Market for 29 years. Picture: Chris Bishop

Howard and Helen Fradley have run the Castle Hotel in Downham Market for 29 years. Picture: Chris Bishop

Archant

A landmark hotel looks set to be converted into flats after failing to attract a buyer.

The Castle Hotel, in Downham Market, will be turned into flats. Picture: Chris BishopThe Castle Hotel, in Downham Market, will be turned into flats. Picture: Chris Bishop

Howard and Helen Fradley put the Castle Hotel in Downham Market up for sale in January 2016.

The couple, who had run the 12-bedroom establishment on the town's High Sreet for 28 years, said they wanted to retire.

But three years later, they have not received any offers - despite dropping the price from £545,000 to £475,000.

A photograph on display in the bar, showing the Castle Hotel, a former coaching inn in the early days of the A photograph on display in the bar, showing the Castle Hotel, a former coaching inn in the early days of the "Horseless carriage". Picture: John Hocknell

So the Fradleys have put in a planning application to convert the distinctive building, parts of which date back to the 17th Century, into flats.

The application proposes converting the main building into six flats, a single storey brew house into a one-bedroom bungalow and extending it to create an extra property.

The application adds: "The applicant is devastated that he has not been able to sell the hotel as a going concern, having put his life and soul into making the hotel a success.

Downham town centre, showing the Castle Hotel, in the 1970s  Picture: ArchantDownham town centre, showing the Castle Hotel, in the 1970s Picture: Archant

"However, at 64 and now with health issues, the applicant has been advised by his doctor to retire, so has no option but to close the hotel on March 30, which coincides with the end of the financial year."

Downham Market Town Council has recommended the borough refuse the plans, saying loss of the hotel would "adversely affect the vitality and viability" the town centre.

But a report to councillors says the Castle is not the last hotel in Downham. It adds the hotel has not been viable for some time.

It goes on: "Whilst the concerns of the town council are noted, the applicant has demonstrated a lengthy but unsuccessful marketing exercise to sell the premises as a going concern, and the closure of the hotel is imminent.

"The loss of the hotel would not be so significant upon

the overall stock of accommodation offered to visitors, public houses and restaurants in this locality as to warrant a reason for refusal."

West Norfolk councillors have been recommended to approve the plans when they meet on Monday.


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