Site of former Earl of Leicester pub still sits empty 15 years after demolition of building

It has been fifteen years since the Earl of Leicester pub on Dereham Road in Norwich was demolished.

It has been fifteen years since the Earl of Leicester pub on Dereham Road in Norwich was demolished. Picture Archant. - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

Fifteen years since the Earl of Leicester pub on Dereham Road was demolished, the plot where the 19th century building once stood lies empty, fenced off and overgrown.

The Earl of Leicester when it was being demolished in 2005. Photo:Antony Kelly

The Earl of Leicester when it was being demolished in 2005. Photo:Antony Kelly - Credit: Evening News © 2005

The impressive landmark, which dated back to 1843 and survived the Luftwaffer's bombing raids during the Second World War, was knocked down in 2005.

At the time, last-ditch attempts were made to list the pub and save it from the bulldozers, but these failed and the building was flattened to make way for housing.

In the years since then, despite planning permission being granted for the site, the last of which expired in 2013, nothing has been built on the plot.

Now the wasteland divides opinion, with some living nearby saying they would like to see it turned into a community area or park and others thinking the land should be used for housing.

The Earl of Leicester Pub, date unknown. Picture: Archant Library

The Earl of Leicester Pub, date unknown. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Archant


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Rupert Read, a former city councillor for Wensum ward, and who in 2005 supported redevelopment of the site, said 15 years down the line there were a number of options for what could happen to the land.

He said: "It's a classic example of absolutely irresponsible behaviour by developers... It shows very clearly why we need to have stronger rights for the community to hold onto our community assets.

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"The site could stay as it is, or it could be turned into some sort of miniature wildlife reserve but given the lack of affordable housing and lack of council owned housing in Norwich it seems to be an ideal candidate for building some housing on, maybe really good sustainable housing like [Goldsmith Street], maybe something like that, something to be proud of."

Martin Peek, a current councillor for Wensum ward also said he hoped the land would be redeveloped.

The site where the Earl of Leicester once stood in 2010 - five years after the pub was demolished.Ph

The site where the Earl of Leicester once stood in 2010 - five years after the pub was demolished.Photo: Denise Bradley - Credit: ©Archant Photographic 2010

"As a councillor I'd like the land to be developed but the city council has got no laws to make that happen," he said.

"We need homes in Norwich and it's a brown field so it would be ideal for residential [development]."

Mr Peek said he had received complaints about the land being overgrown.

"It has become an eyesore for residents," he said.

Former councillors Rupert Read, left, and Adrian Ramsay at the site of the demolished Earl of Leices

Former councillors Rupert Read, left, and Adrian Ramsay at the site of the demolished Earl of Leicester pub, at the junction of Bowthorpe Road and Dereham Road in 2009, 11 years on the site is still wasteland.Photo: Denise Bradley - Credit: ©Archant Photographic 2009

But people living nearby said they would like to see the site landscaped, or turned into a community space.

Jonathan, 36, who has lived on Dereham Road for two years, said: "It's not nice. I had heard they were trying to do something with it.

"To be honest I think it would nice to have another pub there or some kind of café.

"I hope they don't try and turn it into flats, it's all housing around here."

The Earl of Leicester pub on Dereham Road, Norwich. Photo:Antony Kelly

The Earl of Leicester pub on Dereham Road, Norwich. Photo:Antony Kelly - Credit: Evening News © 2005

Amanda Baker, whose house overlooks the overgrown plot, said: "I think it would be nice for it to be turned into a community area.

Ms Baker said she would also support the land being turned into parking, to ease pressure on the surrounding streets.

"Although it would be nice as a communal space, I think it would be excellent if they could use it for residents' parking. I prefer the scrub land to [it being] a load of flats."

Joss Wickham, 72, remembers the Earl of Leicester pub before it was demolished. She said: "It would be nice if it was made into a park or landscape, but that's not likely to happen.

Dr Rupert Read. a former councillor for Wensum ward. Picture: Rupert Read

Dr Rupert Read. a former councillor for Wensum ward. Picture: Rupert Read - Credit: Archant

"I don't think it's an eyesore but it's not ideal."

A 47-year-old man, who has lived on Dereham Road for 12 years and did not wish to give his name, said: "I quite like the land as it is, in the summer it's got flowers and I think that's really nice, I'd quite like for it to be turned into a park. It looks a bit rough around the edges but I've got no complaints. It's not up to me to me to decide I suppose I like it the way it is."

Attempts were made to contact Tim Hardesty, the current owner of the land.

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