Owner warns that it could submit home plan for Rocklands pub

The owners of a closed Norfolk pub have warned that they may submit an application to turn it into a private home, if a buyer can not be found soon.

The White Hart in Rockland All Saints is the subject of a community campaign for villagers to buy and reopen the inn, near Attleborough, after it was shut two years ago.

However, Sally-Ann and Binz Leeder, who bought the building in 2006, said they may submit a proposal to Breckland Council to turn the pub into a house after the district council rejected plans for three new homes on land behind the building earlier this year.

The couple are set to hold clear the air talks with locals after being invited to speak at a parish council meeting next month and are calling residents to support them to allow the White Hart to be reopened.

Mrs Leeder said they may submit new plans for homes at the rear of the premises in the The Street, if local people got behind the scheme, or look into turning the inn into a private home.

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'We have run a fairly successful village pub, but did not make any money out of it. We got most of our trade from outside the village with a sprinkling of the village supporting us.'

'We are trying to build three houses at the back to clear our mortgage so that we can put some new windows in and build an extension to make it more upmarket and give local people more community facilities, which is what they want,' she said.

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Breckland Councillors refused the couple's homes plans in May because they were outside the settlement boundary for Rockland All Saints and the development was out of character for the area.

Mrs Leeder added that no one had met their �380,000 asking price for the pub over the last two years. She added that the parish council meeting on November 12 may help to find a new way forward.

'We have no ulterior motive, we want to move on. We have to live in one room, which is not licensed and we have lived there for two years. The village want the pub open again and we want to move on. We can not afford to give it away.'

'We will see what happens on November 12, but we may have to make an application to turn it into a house and we do not really want to do that. I have been in the trade for 30 years and it is heartbreaking,' she said.

The White Hart was first established in the late 18th century and was rebuilt in 1930 after a fire.

The Rocklands White Hart Community Association was formed a year ago to try and buy the freehouse as a community-run establishment. The community association is inviting people to submit pledges at �250 a share.

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