Is Wetherspoons' seven-year quest to build in town over?
- Credit: Archant
Plans to open a Wetherspoons in North Walsham have been thrown into doubt, with the site it has earmarked set to be flexible business space.
Discussions had been ongoing with the pub chain since 2014 to open a branch at The Cedars, the former offices of North Walsham Town Council on New Road.
However North Norfolk District Council said Wetherspoons was unable to commit to buying the site due to the pandemic.
Instead, it will refurbish the building with the £3.2m High Street Heritage Action Zone funding from Historic England and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, before using it as flexible space for businesses and community groups.
As well as letting out the main building, the council is also discussing proposals to sell adjoining land to maximise financial return on the site.
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Wetherspoon have insisted this is not the case however, and say they are still looking to purchase the site.
Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We note the announcement of the council.
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“Wetherspoon is still keen to purchase the site and develop it into a pub and would be more than happy to speak with the council members on this matter.”
Deputy leader of the district council and North Walsham town councillor, Eric Seward said: “The proposal for the Cedar House New Road site to be sold to JD Wetherspoon has been going on for nearly seven years.
"The district council under different political administrations has twice agreed to sell the site to them.
"However, the Covid pandemic has understandably delayed any chance of a pub being opened on this site for some years.
"The council therefore has to find alternative ways for this derelict prominent town centre site to be brought back into use.”
Richard Kershaw, portfolio holder for sustainable growth, added: “The council is creating a once in a generation opportunity to enhance North Walsham’s historic core and make it an attractive destination and centre of commerce.
"With the award of grants for the HAZ scheme and the help from Historic England, this historic building can become a key part of that programme of activity.
"Bringing The Cedars back into use, after it laying empty for so long, will breathe new life into this gateway to the historic market place.”