Norwich pub The Bell Hotel lodges bid to get bigger

The Bell Hotel and Santander bank in Norwich. The pub wants to extend into the offices above the ban

The Bell Hotel and Santander bank in Norwich. The pub wants to extend into the offices above the bank. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

One of Norwich's most popular pubs could get even bigger, after plans were lodged for it to expand into nearby empty offices.

JD Wetherspoon has asked Norwich City Council for permission to make the extension to The Bell Hotel, in Orford Hill, in the city centre.

The pub chain is seeking approval to extend the floorspace for drinkers into empty offices above the Santander bank.

Eddie Gershon, spokesman for JD Wetherspoon, said: 'The Bell Hotel is one of our most long established pubs in the UK and one of the most popular in Norwich and Norfolk. 'We are always keen to add value for our customers and as a result, we have put in for planning permission to extend.

'That is a decision to be made by the city council, but we are very keen to extend and create an even better pub for our customers.'

Documents lodged with Norwich City Council state that JD Wetherspoon is ready to invest a 'considerable sum' in the repair, refurbishment and refitting of the building.

And those documents state: 'The proposals would also potentially provide additional employment opportunities whilst attracting more visitors to Norwich.

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The application also proposed making changes to the pub's current beer garden, including making it more accessible for disabled people.

Parts of the Bell Hotel are believed to date back to the 15th century.

It has been known as the Bell Hotel or the Blue Bell since at least 1696 and at one point in the 18th century was renowned for hosting cockfighting.

In the 1750s it was a meeting point for the Hellfire Club, while during the Second World War it was the headquarters for the American Women's Army Air Corps.

After a spell of being shut, it re-opened in 1993, becoming the first JD Wetherspoon venue in Norwich.

Through our Love Your Local campaign, the Norwich Evening News has been urging people to use the city's pubs or risk them joining those who have closed their doors permanently.

• Do you have a story about a pub? Call reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email

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