Plan to build letting rooms on pub beer garden turned down

The Butchers Arms in East Ruston. Picture: Danielle Booden

The Butchers Arms in East Ruston. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

A bid to build nine letting rooms on the site of a village pub's beer garden has been refused.

North Norfolk District Council has turned down an application by Mark Oakes to construct the units next to the Butchers Arms in Oak Lane, East Ruston.  

The decision, made by council officers, states the plan would represent an overdevelopment of the site and would likely result in "an unacceptable level of noise disturbance" for neighbours. 

Plans show the letting rooms would have ben designed to be accessible to people with disabilities, and the area would have been surrounded by 'acoustic fencing' to reduce noise. 

Several objections to the plan were lodged by neighbours. One read: "By building on the beer garden, our village will lose a valuable asset of the community which has been used by the pub landlady, villagers and the wider community as a space to erect marquees to host events such as weddings, summer balls, charity fundraisers and celebrate national events such as royal weddings and jubilees."

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Lowestoft businessmen Mr Oakes and Sam Cole of Oulton Broad Properties bought the Butchers Arms in late 2018 after it was forced to close due to rising overheads and shrinking takings.

In 2019 the venue bounced back, with longtime landlady Julie Oatham keen to transform it into a more community-based pub by hosting more club nights and events.

But the application to build the letting rooms stated: "It is important to note that Oulton Broad Properties Ltd bought the pub when the operator became insolvent.

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"The property is rented to the former owner at a very subsidised rent and this development is the only option to make the business sustainable for the future."

Mrs Oatham - who was not involved in the application - said that although the pub remained shut they were still doing takeaway food - including afternoon teas -  and stocked some basic food cupboard items such as eggs and flour. 

Mrs Oatham said, thanks to volunteers, they had also managed to deliver cooked dinners to people around the village during the coronavirus closure.

“We’re keeping our heads above water and doing what we can for people,” she said. 

Mr Oakes has been approached for a comment. 

Julie Oatham, owner of The Butchers Arms in East Ruston, with the puddings she has prepared for thei

Julie Oatham, owner of The Butchers Arms in East Ruston, with puddings prepared for the pub's Sunday roast dinner delivery and collection service during the pandemic. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

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