Yet another twist to Wetherspoons saga in Norfolk town
PUBLISHED: 09:48 28 June 2019 | UPDATED: 15:04 28 June 2019
First it was on, then it was off, and now it could be back on again.
The long-running saga of whether the JD Wetherspoon pub chain is moving to North Walsham could be back on the agenda.
Earlier this month, North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) said Wetherspoon's original offer to convert the former town council offices in New Road into a pub had been taken "off the table".
But NNDC leader Sarah Butikofer said today there could still be a Wetherspoon's on part of the site.
She said: "The former town council site in New Road has rightly attracted public interest and comment.
"The reason the new Liberal Democrat administration at NNDC has asked for a review of what should happen to the vacant site is that the existing situation has gone on for far too long, and no longer represents an acceptable return on investment for North Norfolk's council taxpayers.
"As a community-led authority we realise the value local residents put on this landmark building.
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"We are looking to find innovative and exciting proposals for this location that represent social and economic return to the people of North Walsham and the wider community of north Norfolk.
"We have started on this process and nothing is off the table including a Wetherspoon's on part of the site, if this is ultimately appropriate for the location.
"We will be consulting the local community on any proposals moving forwards."
The authority announced last month that its new cabinet led by Mrs Butikofer would "look again" at what the building could be used for, but stopped short of saying the Wetherspoon's plan was definitely a non-starter.
The pub chain first proposed taking over the building in New Road five years ago.
Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: "We are as keen as ever to open a pub on the site.
"We won't be doing anything more until we hear direct from the council on this matter."
He said previously that they were ready to exchange on contracts.
And that they were "extremely frustrated" with the delay, "given the time and cost put into the project".