Historic Grade II hotel to be converted into flats

Howard and Helen Fradley have run the Castle Hotel in Downham Market for 29 years. Picture: Chris Bi

Howard and Helen Fradley have run the Castle Hotel in Downham Market for 29 years. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

A Grade II listed hotel in the heart of a Norfolk town will be turned into flats after years of it being on the market.

The Castle Hotel, in Downham Market, will be turned into flats. Picture: Chris Bishop

The Castle Hotel, in Downham Market, will be turned into flats. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

The owners of the Castle Hotel in Downham Market put the Grade II listed building up for sale in January 2016 after wanting to retire.

Howard and Helen Fradley, who had run the 12-bedroom hotel for 29 years, revealed last month that they were heartbroken over the decision but were left with no option after struggling to find a buyer.

The couple submitted a listed building application as a "last resort" to convert the hotel into six apartments, to change a brewhouse into a one-bedroom property and to create another one bedroom property.

The application was approved by west Norfolk council at a planning committee meeting on Monday, March 2.

Downham town centre, showing the Castle Hotel, in the 1970s Picture: Archant

Downham town centre, showing the Castle Hotel, in the 1970s Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Downham Market Town Council recommended that the borough refuse the plans and speaking on their behalf at the planning meeting, Frank Daymond said the refusal was on the grounds of "the loss of hotel accommodation" in the town.


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But Mr Fradley told councillors the Castle Hotel was not the only place offering accommodation in the area.

He said: "We put it up for £545,000 and four years later is it still on the market. We've reduced it by £75,000 and had it on three professional agents but it's still hasn't sold.

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"There is a question of a loss of rooms in Downham Market but there are plenty of hotels in Downham, we have The Swan, The Crown, and there's Tottenhill and the Timbers and plenty of B&Bs."

A photograph on display in the bar, showing the Castle Hotel, a former coaching inn in the early day

A photograph on display in the bar, showing the Castle Hotel, a former coaching inn in the early days of the "Horseless carriage". Picture: John Hocknell - Credit: Eastern Daily Press, Archant

MORE: Fears for future of town centre if historic hotel becomes flats.Mr Fradley's health also plays a factor in the closure. In a statement on the application it says the 64-year-old now with health issues has been "advised by his doctor to retire, so has no option but to close the hotel on March 30."

The part 17th century hotel recently received interest from a potential buyer who said he would buy the business if a deal was possible.

Jonathan Davies contacted the council on Friday, February 28 saying: "I have part owned and run two hotels, each larger than this and am interested in coming out of retirement to buy this business.

"The Castle Hotel is uniquely placed in the commercial centre of Downham Market and upon planning criteria I would question the placing of residential flats in the middle of a business area where 'creeping' residential use will reduce the viability of other businesses."

But Mr Fradley addressed his comments at the planning meeting.

He said: "I'm aware of Mr Jonathan Davies saying he wished to purchase the hotel.

"I did show him around the hotel a few weeks ago and he made it clear he didn't have any funds to buy it."

The council voted in favour of the application with 15 votes, two against and one abstention.

READ MORE: Historic hotel set to close and be turned into flats.

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