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Calls to save 18th century village pub following plans to demolish and make way for houses

PUBLISHED: 06:30 07 November 2018 | UPDATED: 08:52 07 November 2018

The Swan public house beside the green in Gressenhall circa 2000. Picture: GRAHAM CORNEY

The Swan public house beside the green in Gressenhall circa 2000. Picture: GRAHAM CORNEY

Calls have been made for a community to save and re-open a village pub amid plans to build homes on the site.

Alastair Simpson at The Swan in Gressenhall in 2013. Picture; Matthew Usher.Alastair Simpson at The Swan in Gressenhall in 2013. Picture; Matthew Usher.

An application to demolish The Swan in Gressenhall, near Dereham, and build four new homes on the site have been submitted to Breckland Council.

The pub, built in 1795, is situated on The Green.

So far 10 objections from local residents have been received by the council.

Resident Paula Mather, claimed the pub had “significant scope” to diversify including adding a shop, post office , or using it as a tea room.

She also suggested that as well as being a viable business, the village would be looking at the possibility of renewing the pub’s operation under community ownership - a process which she has volunteered to lead and coordinate.

In a letter of objection written to Breckland Council, she said: “The development would result in the loss of an invaluable community facility. It has been an institution in the village since 1795, and it would be a great shame to relinquish this forever.

“In general terms, I share the deep national concern about the loss of public houses, with closures now taking place at the rate of more than 20 each week. Pubs are valuable community assets for many reasons.”

She added that there was an “untapped potential for tourism partnerships” with organisations including The Gressenhall Life Museum and the proposed Bullards Brewery.

Sally Cross, of Church Lane, said many people had relied on The Swan as a meeting point.

“The pub is such an important part of village life,” she said. “It wouldn’t be the same without one.”

Robert Hensen, also of Church Lane, said: “A community run pub would be ideal as it would given a large number of people an interest in running it properly.

“The community spirit in Gressenhall is as strong as it has ever been and removing this facility would be a real blow to the morale in the village.”

And Jane Keidan, of Dereham Road, said the locality of the development would “make an unpleasant, ‘urban’ statement and will be completely out of keeping with a village green”.

The once-popular eatery closed during the summer .

The building is not listed or in a conservation area.

A decision is expected to be made by December 19.

The applicant has been approached for comment.

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