Fresh bid to turn former Norwich pub into flats for students

The former Freed Man pub in Norwich, which could be turned into student flats. Pic: Keith Whitmore.

The former Freed Man pub in Norwich, which could be turned into student flats. Pic: Keith Whitmore. - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

A fresh attempt is to be made to turn a closed Norwich pub into flats for students.

The former Freed Man pub on St Mildreds Road in west Earlham has been empty for more than two years.

Earlier this year, city-based developers Estateducation lodged plans with Norwich City Council seeking permission to convert and extend it into 35 flats for students.

However, planners rejected the scheme in the summer, saying that, because the proposed development was so close to woodland at the back of the site, the rooms facing there would have 'very poor levels of outlook and daylighting'.

The council said: 'Consequently, living conditions for future occupants would be unacceptable.'

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They also said the 'nuisance posed by the trees' would be 'significant'.

The Norwich and Norfolk branch of Camra had objected to the original plans and applied for the pub to be added to the Asset of Community Value register, which is still pending.

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However, Estateduction have returned with a revised application they hope will be more palatable to councillors.

The number of flats has been cut to 34 and documents lodged with City Hall state: 'The updated proposal provides increased levels of light to all rooms and these now meet and exceed the minimum guidelines.'

The applicant has also cut back trees along the boundary of the site and pledged to maintain them.

Ben James, chief investor of Estateducation said: 'We've taken into account the council's comments and have submitted a revised scheme, which we hope will be approved, as we look to provide upmarket student accommodation to Norwich and reduce the reliance on homes being converted into homes of multiple occupation for students.'

The Freed Man, which was built in the 1950s, had been offered for sale from February 2016, but only three offers were received and these were not from public house operators.

Prior to that it had been offered for lease for a period of 32 months, without any success.

A decision on whether to grant permission for the conversion will be made by the council in due course.

The bid is the latest example of developers tapping into the student accommodation market.

A 244-bed tower, known as The Quad is being built on the former Mecca Bingo site in All Saints Green and a £45m revamp to turn St Stephens Towers into homes for more than 700 students is in the pipeline.

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