Langley pub plans tipped for approval

Controversial plans to turn a derelict Broads pub into a house have been tipped for approval.

Local people expressed anger last year after members of Langley with Hardley Parish Council voted in favour of plans to convert the former Wherry Inn at Langley Staithe to residential use.

The building is owned by former parish council chairman Gary Hayes, of Willow Builders.

At the time residents suggested that a lease for the pub had been set at a 'ridiculous price' and local farmer Jimmy Lutkin said he had asked to buy the pub on several occasions but had been turned down.

A previous application to turn the pub into a house was refused by South Norfolk Council in 2006. The plans are now recommended for approval.

The district council has received seven letters of support for the proposals and 34 letters of objection. The Broads Authority has objected on grounds including the loss of a public house in a tourist area.

According to a planning report, since 2006 the applicant, with advice from the district valuer, agreed with the council a package to market the property. This was on a 20-year lease starting with a rental of �7,000 and rising to �27,000 in year five.

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The report says during this time there were at least four interested parties who submitted detailed business and funding plans but all fell through.

'Clearly interest was shown with four interested parties all withdrawing due to funding issues. This is not surprising given the current economic climate and the length of time the public house has been closed (over six years).'

The document adds: 'Given the relatively remote location of the premises it would be difficult to see how any business would be economically viable, although this must be balanced against being in a very popular tourist location.

'Since this application has been submitted south Norfolk has seen a number of public houses closing and these have been in large village locations where alternative uses may be more viable.'

The report continues: 'There has been a considerable amount of local objection to the proposal as detailed.

'Taking all the facts into account, which I feel are finely balanced, I do not consider it would be reasonable to ask the applicant to carry out any further marketing, especially in light of national policy.'

The plans will be discussed at a district council planning committee meeting tomorrow .