Landlord threatens to close his 17th century village pub if alcohol licence is granted to neighbouring B&B
- Credit: Matthew Usher
The owner of a 17th century village pub near Fakenham has said he may have to close the place if an alcohol licence is granted to a neighbouring bed and breakfast venue.
James Lee, who bought the 328-year-old Blue Boar Inn in Great Ryburgh five years ago, has gone as far as to write to North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) to ask for information about how he could remove his pub's licence and change its use.
Audrey Buxton has applied to NNDC for a licence that would permit the sale of alcohol at Melody House B&B on Station Road, Great Ryburgh.
The council's licensing sub-committee is due to discuss the application on Tuesday.
In his letter to the council, Mr Lee writes: 'It seems to me that you are going to grant this person a premises licence which, together with her bed and breakfast and impending food operation and the fact that it is next door, leave me no option but to ask you to explain the process of de-licensing and getting a change-of-use for The Blue Boar Inn. The village already has one other drinks outlet at the social club.
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'This is a reluctant decision but it is entirely of the licensing department's making and I find it incredulous that they are granting this licence when the plight of rural pubs is well documented.'
In an earlier letter, Mr Lee wrote: 'When pubs close they very rarely reopen.'
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The council, in reply, has offered support from its economic and tourism development manager and business development officer.
A council officer's report to the Licensing Sub-Committee shows that three other members of the public have written to the council in objection to the proposal.
Concerns raised include the possible impact on the 'cherished village pub', social club and shop, potential parking problems that could be caused by people using the venue to drink alcohol and not stay at the B&B and worries over potential threat to law and order.
The officer's report, however, advises councillors that many of the concerns raised are not relevant licensing issues.
The report says the four licensing objectives to be considered are: prevention of crime and disorder; public safety; the prevention of public nuisance and the protection of children from harm.
It states: 'There has been significant correspondence from various residents concerning this application.
'However, most of the correspondence does not relate to the four licensing objectives and so are not valid representations under the Licensing Act 2003.'
The report adds: 'A representation from a local businessperson about the commercial damage caused by competition from a new licensed premises would not be relevant.'
Mrs Buxton's application is seeking permission for the sale of alcohol, for consumption on the premises from 10am until midnight from Sundays to Thursdays and 10am until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.
She also wants a licence to play recorded music from 7am until 10pm all week.
Her application states: 'The premises is run predominantly as an upmarket bed and breakfast/ guest house.
'We have a reputation of offering good quality food and accommodation so we feel the addition of a licence to sell alcohol will be beneficial to our business for our patrons to be able to purchase an alcoholic beverage with either their evening meal or to take back to their room or sit in one of the comfortable guest lounges.
'CCTV is installed in all the grounds and communal areas of Melody House.'
Mrs Buxton's application also said she is committed to abide by the four licensing objectives.
The report shows that Norfolk Police, Norfolk Trading Standards, NNDC Environmental Health and NNDC Licensing have all expressed no objections to the application.
Mrs Buxton did not wish to comment when she was contacted by The Times this week.
Mrs Buxton's son, Christopher Buxton, was granted planning permission to open a fish and chip shop on Station Road, Great Ryburgh last year and that application received 72 comments of support from local residents.