Hempnall pub set to be turned into private home

A Norfolk pub is set to be turned into a private home, despite concerns from residents and the parish council that the pub was not advertised properly and the council had not been given the chance to run it as a community asset.

South Norfolk Council's development management committee approved applicant Paul Ellis's plans to turn the Queen's Head pub in Hempnall into a house, despite receiving 20 objection letters from villagers calling for the pub to be saved.

The Mill Road pub, which had two bars but did not sell food, closed in 2008, and was sold by the owner, brewery Punch Taverns, to Mr Ellis in 2009.

In August, he put the property on the market through Durrants estate agents as a pub, after agreeing a six-month advertising strategy with the council, but although three interested parties viewed the property, no offer was made.

A fourth party did offer the �165,000 asking price without viewing the pub, but did not respond to a number of requests to confirm availability of funds. The potential deal fell through, forcing Mr Ellis to pursue the conversion of the pub into a house.

However, Geoff Moulton, chairman of Hempnall Parish Council, told Wednesday's committee meeting he was concerned about how the pub had been advertised, particularly the lack of an 'uplift' clause which would have allowed the buyer to potentially develop land surrounding the pub for sale and use the profits to refurbish the pub.

But the council's solicitor Stuart Shortman said the aim of the advertising strategy was to determine whether there was demand for the pub itself, and not for the pub with associated development rights. He added that a buyer could have bought the site as a pub and then decided to redevelop the property at a later date.

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Mr Moulton also called for a decision on the change of use of the rundown pub site to be called off until the forthcoming Localism Act had been introduced, giving the council the right to buy the property as a community asset, but Mr Shortman said the application should not be thrown out to wait for legislation that had not yet passed into law.

Afterwards, Mr Moulton said: 'We feel that the whole marketing exercise was a shame.

We feel that if it had been marketed properly, it could have been kept as a pub.'

dominic.bareham2@archant.co.uk

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