Villagers urged to come forward and save only pub
PUBLISHED: 15:27 08 November 2019 | UPDATED: 15:39 08 November 2019
The former landlord of a village pub said plans to stop it becoming a house and keep it open would be unlikely to gain enough support, after villagers were urged to save it.
The village of Stoke Ferry could lose its last pub after a planning application was submitted to turn the watering hole into housing.
The Blue Bell Inn, which had been listed as an asset of community value, was closed in March 2018 due to poor trading.
Plans to develop the Blue Bell into a home have been drawn up after a new tenancy fell through and not enough interest was shown from the community to run it within a six-week period.
At a Stoke Ferry Parish Council meeting on Wednesday, November 6, councillors said it should be used as a business to keep trade in the village.
But this sentiment was not shared by some residents, who said they did not think that path was viable.
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Parish councillor Jim McNeill led the calls to the community, encouraging residents to come forward to maintain the pub for the village.
Mr McNeill said: "I've run many pubs, restaurants and cafés and I'd be happy to assist and help anybody who wants to take it on as a licenced premise. It could have a number of uses and be of value to our community to maintain our status as a key rural hub."
John Ward, a previous landlord of the pub who attended the meeting as a member of the public, told the meeting: "I can't remember any of you using the pub. If you're going to have it as a café, who is going to use it here in this room? What have we lost this year? We've lost the post office, Barclays bank has gone, the butchers are gone, the chemist has gone. Everything in this village has gone.
"I don't think as a pub or a café that it is going to bring enough revenue for this village."
Fellow councillor Kit Hesketh-Harvey said: "I very much accept it's hard for rural pubs to survive unless the community is behind it in a multifunctional capacity. I think it should be a café, a restaurant, somewhere for the village to meet, particularly when we're going to be inundated with new housing."
The parish council voted in favour of asking West Norfolk Council to call the application in.
Borough councillor Colin Sampson said: "If you call it in and win you realise it is going to sit there empty and unloved for a significant length of time until whoever gets their act together and puts in this alternative use."
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