Owl Sanctuary will move into former strip-club on Norwich’s Timber Hill

Dan Hawcroft at his new premises for the Owl Sanctuary, tucked away in Timberhill. Picture: DENISE B

Dan Hawcroft at his new premises for the Owl Sanctuary, tucked away in Timberhill. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

The Owl Sanctuary's 'best kept secret' has been revealed as they announce their new venue - made possible by a crowd-funding campaign - will be a former strip-club on Timber Hill.

Dan Hawcroft's staff preparing his new premises for the Owl Sanctuary, tucked away in Timberhill. Pi

Dan Hawcroft's staff preparing his new premises for the Owl Sanctuary, tucked away in Timberhill. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Loyal customers were delighted as the team behind the venue confirmed their relaunch has been set for February 19, with a new home secured just days after their final weekend.

The pub on Cattle Market Street closed its doors on Sunday, after staff were told the building had been bought.

But gigs at The Owl Sanctuary Mark Two are already selling out, and owner Dan Hawcroft said they had been 'really lucky' to get the new building so soon.

'The bottom line of what we were, we're a working class pub,' he said. 'As long as it's done with passion we'd give it an ear.

'To have them come in and completely rip out from underneath us what we were doing, it was heartbreaking, it's been a horrible couple of months.

'We were really lucky, we got approached by a family called the Turner's who saw all the stuff in the paper, heard all the stuff on the radio, saw what we were about as people and came to see us. They said, 'we've got an empty club sitting there, do you want to come have a look?'

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Mr Hawcroft has now been offered use of the former Fallen Angels strip-club, and work will begin in earnest getting it ready for opening night.

'It's actually an old strip club, so it was hard for the rest of the team to walk in there and imagine it as a music venue, but I could see it,' he said. 'It had the same vibe as what we had in the Owl.

'It has this sort of tucked away, best kept secret sort of vibe.'

The new pub will have the same capacity spread over two floors, and Mr Hawcroft said they will continue to support local breweries.

'If you can do something positive for the community with a place like that, it's a result,' he said.

'To take a building like that and do something really positive with it, support local art, support the community, it's a win-win.'

The former home of the Owl Sanctuary, which has been bought by a new owner, could still be protected as an asset of community value, as talks including CAMRA and Norwich South MP Clive Lewis are ongoing.

'It's obviously great to see such a well-loved venue has found a new home, and it would have been a real loss had it disappeared,' said Mr Lewis. 'They book bands that would not otherwise have come to the city, and have a very loyal clientele.

'This whole episode has shown how little protection there is for the kind of community assets people really value. Even with a community asset listing, it needs to be strengthened so people do have the choice of actually owning these places, and it is not out of reach for ordinary people.

'Ordinary people cannot compete with property developers, because they do not have such big pockets.

'The asset of community value appeal is a CAMRA initiative supported by around 2,000 local people.

'That is still in the process and is still valuable to the extent that should it go through, it offers a little protection for the pub remaining on the site, so would not be as easy for people to turn it into houses.'

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