Wall of listed Elm Hill building coated in grease due to private club’s kitchen

PUBLISHED: 14:53 13 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:53 13 August 2020

The Strangers Club in Elm Hill. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Strangers Club in Elm Hill. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY


Grease from the kitchen of a private members club is coating the wall of a listed building in Norwich’s historic Elm Hill - with watchdogs claiming it presents a fire risk.

Grease has built up on the wall of 26 - 28 Elm Hill. Pic: Norwich Preservation Trust.Grease has built up on the wall of 26 - 28 Elm Hill. Pic: Norwich Preservation Trust.

But city councillors voted against a move The Strangers Club put forward to solve the problem, because they - and heritage watchdogs - felt a better alternative could be found.

The issue revolves around 22/24 Elm Hill, which The Strangers Club leases from Norwich City Council.

That gentleman’s club has a restaurant and kitchen, with an extraction system leading into a narrow gap between the club’s building and the next door buildings at 26/28 Elm Hill.

Both buildings are owned by the council and are Grade II* listed, but the extraction system has led to deposits of grease on the side of 26/28 Elm Hill.

Lesley Grahame, Green city councillor. Pic: Green Party.Lesley Grahame, Green city councillor. Pic: Green Party.

The extraction system is in a hole cut in the side of the building. Council officers said it appeared that hole was created in 1965, and the current extraction system upgraded in 1996.

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In a statement to the council, The Strangers Club said: “In the 25 years following the upgrade there were no comments or complaints about our kitchen from the city council or our neighbours until the end of last year when concerns of grease emissions, odours, noise and damage to the opposing wall were raised.”

But the Norwich Preservation Trust said the “stench” and grease hampered efforts to bring 26/28 Elm Hill back into use. They said it created a “substantial” fire risk.

The Council for British Archaeology and the Norwich Society also opposed the application, although Historic England did not.

Planning officer David Parkin said he felt fire risk concerns were “exaggerated” and Norfolk Fire Service had not raised concerns.

The Strangers Club had asked the city council for permission to make changes to the extraction system, adding a mesh to reduce the grease and a baffle to disperse emissions away from the wall.

But councillors said that did not go far enough and unanimously turned it down. Green Lesley Grahame said: “It seems half-baked and ill-considered and we could do better”.

The committee said the proposal’s benefits did not outweigh the harm and asked for officers to explore alternatives with the club.

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