Dilham landlord defends pub expansion plans

A landlord who has applied for planning permission for an extension to his North Norfolk pub has reassured locals he wants it to remain 'a country pub'.

Concerns had been raised to plans submitted to the Broads Authority by Paul Grothier who, with his wife Karen, took over The Cross Keys public house based in The Street, Dilham, last March. Before that the pub had been closed for a number of months.

The proposals include an expansion to the existing pub to provide for eight en-suite bedrooms, and an increase in size of the restaurant, kitchen, cellar, conservatory and manager/owner's flat.

Concerns had been raised regarding the conservatory and how the sewerage system in place would cope.

Michael Lawson, from Mill Road in Dilham, in a letter to the authority, states: 'The proposed conservatory offers little added value to the overall concept of the refurbishment, but potentially could cause serious nuisance problems to adjoining owners and to my entitlement to the right of quiet enjoyment of my property.'

Dilham Parish Council had also raised concerns about surface water drainage and the current septic tank system being able to cope with the larger restaurant, as well as requesting off road parking areas for the pub.

Mr Grothier has updated the plans, with proposals to put a new private treatment plant for the sewage and also stating that a fire door for the conservatory will be purely a means of escape and not an access route for the pub garden.

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He said: 'I think people have got the wrong impression about what we are trying to do. We are just trying to keep the pub going. We have got so popular now for food - we are full nearly every Friday and Saturday night - and in order for us to push the business on we have to expand, but we want it to be a proper country pub.'

He said he had met with residents to answer their concerns and said he was not looking to increase noise levels at the pub, adding that the only live music event taking place there this year is Morris Dancing.

John and Val Catchpole, from Fishermans Cottage, in Dilham, have written to the Broads Authority in support of the application. They state: 'The pub is the life-blood of our village, which requires significant investment in the building and grounds, which the previous owners had severely neglected. The current landlord has a vision; he has proved he's capable against all the odds. Please don't encourage him to invest his enthusiasm elsewhere.

'The village community needs a successful, sustainable pub without which it would probably revert to the soulless place it had become two years ago.'

The application is due to be heard by the planning committee at Dragonfly House, Gilders Way, Norwich, on Thursday, April 28, at 10am.

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