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‘No plans to close pub’: owners calm fears over city boozer

PUBLISHED: 06:00 05 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:03 05 February 2020

Ben Duraj, owns theTrowel and Hammer pub, on St Stephens Road in Norwich, and has lodged plans to extend its B&B. Photo: Emily Thomson

Ben Duraj, owns theTrowel and Hammer pub, on St Stephens Road in Norwich, and has lodged plans to extend its B&B. Photo: Emily Thomson

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The owners of a much-loved city local have reassured drinkers that the pub will stay open - despite their being granted permission to change into a hotel.

This month, Norwich City Council has given its blessing for brothers Ben and Ilir Duraj to turn the Trowel and Hammer on St Stephens Road into a hotel and bed and breakfast - a function it had been running alongside the pub.

The application will allow the pub, which currently already has a bed and breakfast offer, to expand and increase the number of guests it can take through an extension and conversion of part of the pub.

However, it has led to fears among regulars that it will no longer be used as a local, once the additional rooms can be added.

However, the brothers insisted this would not be the case and that they would still operate as a pub when the work was eventually carried out.

Ilir Duraj said: "At the moment we do not have any plans to close the pub. Things will stay as it is and nothing is going to change.

"Nothing is going to happen in the near future, everything will be as normal. As it stands, everything will stay as normal and our customers who play darts and visit us have nothing to worry about."

He added that the planning permission gave the pub three years to carry out the works, but that they were not financially in the position to do it yet. He said the permission was there so that when the time came it would be able to make the change.

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Ben Duraj added: "We have the permission so that is all good, but in the meantime we carry on as normal. People have been coming in and asking us whether we are closing, but we are not."

The pair added that if the expansion did go ahead, part of the building would still continue to operate as a pub.

The building has been used as a pub for more than 300 years, welcoming drinkers since the beginning of the 1700s. It has previously been called The Spittle House and Finnegans Wake.


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