New initiative to protect 200 Norfolk pubs

The Harte pub in Costessey.

The Harte pub in Costessey. - Credit: Archant

An ambitious drive for 200 pubs in Norfolk to become assets of community value has taken a step closer after nominations to list every pub in Costessey were lodged.

The Crown in Costessey.

The Crown in Costessey. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

The Norwich and Norfolk Camra (Campaign for Real Ale) branch and South Norfolk Council have rolled out a new initiative to list pubs in the area on the scheme before it becomes a reactive measure.

Recent bids in the city have come when venues have been in dire straits, including the Owl Sanctuary on Cattle Market Street, and Virtuoso on Ketts Hill.

But nominations for all four pubs in Costessey – The Copper Beech, The Crown, The Bush and Harte of Costessey – have now been approved by the town council to be assets of community value (ACVs) despite no imminent risk of closure.

Kerrie Gallagher, community capacity manager at South Norfolk Council, said: 'Nominating pubs in a more structured way is actually a lot more sensitive for the pubs, and they can feel like they are something valued within their community.'

The Copper Beech at Longwater, Norwich.

The Copper Beech at Longwater, Norwich. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

'I am in the process of rewriting our guidance and support around ACVs, and this saves officer time and taxpayers' money. Hopefully Camra will register all pubs in South Norfolk – just under 100 – as ACVs.'

Other nominations pending include the Cock Inn at Lakenham, White Lodge at Attleborough, Queens Head at Hethersett and the White Hart at Hingham.

Most Read

Rob Whitmore, secretary of Norwich and Norfolk Camra branch, said the ultimate aim was to register all of the 584 pubs in the region.

'We have set a target of 200 pubs in 2016 and will be getting in further nominations by the back end of the year,' he said.'South Norfolk Council is embracing the idea of community pubs and this is certainly a different approach within our branch – if a pub is there it deserves saving. Ultimately the aim is to get all pubs within our patch listed.'

Already 42 pubs in the Norwich and Norfolk Camra area are listed and 21 nominations are pending. Twenty-eight more are being considered in South Norfolk and 20 in the West Anglia region.

Neil Bowers, pub protection officer for Norwich and Norfolk Camra, said: 'To have an ACV against a pub does prevent it from closing straight away. It is an ongoing process and it is not going to stop.

'Once the ACV has been applied to a pub it can't be changed into anything else without planning permission. It prevents a pub being sold without the community at least having an opportunity to buy it. It gives them an opportunity to put a case forward as to why they should buy it.'

The Community Right to Bid

The Community Right to Bid came into force in autumn 2012 and allows communities and parish councils to nominate buildings or land for listing by the local authority as an asset of community value. When a listed asset comes to be sold, a moratorium on the sale (of up to six months) may be invoked, providing local community groups with a better chance to raise finance, develop a business and to make a bid to buy the asset on the open market.

A building or other land is an asset of community value if its main use has recently been or is presently used to further the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community and could do so in the future.

Shouldham success story

The EDP backed a campaign to raise £300,000 to buy the Kings Arms at Shouldham for the community.

Residents, who had forged friendships at the pub, thought the venue was going to close forever when it unexpectedly and suddenly shut in 2012.

But pub-goers raised a glass to the now community-led initiative reopening two years later.

Villagers and people from as far as Hong Kong raised £150,000 towards the cost of buying the pub, with grants from the Department of Communities and Local Government, Pub is the Hub and the Geoffrey Watling Charity covering the rest of the £225,000 needed for the freehold.

To prove the venue could really go from strength to strength owners Shouldham Community Enterprises put in a planning application to add a patio area and extension on to the side of the building to include a disabled toilet and baby changing facilities just six months after it reopened.

Now the venue is West Norfolk CAMRA Pub of the Year 2016.