After appealing against Broadland District Council’s decision to refuse a planning application for a change of use of The Crown from a public house to residential, the applicants have now submitted a new planning application.
Reepham residents Garron and Helen Monk, who want to buy the property, are now arguing for a change of use from public house to mixed use residential and business (office).
In February, Broadland said allowing a change of use of The Crown would result in the loss of a community facility and a local business, and would reduce customer choice for both eating and drinking facilities within Reepham. It would also mean the loss of several jobs, which would have a direct impact on the local economy.
The Monks had originally sought to convert the Ollands Road pub into a five-bedroom residential dwelling. The Planning Inspectorate, based in Bristol, accepted their appeal and is currently determining the matter based on written evidence.
In the new application, it is proposed to convert part of the building to an office for Mrs Monk to operate her established architectural practise, with claims that three people will be employed full-time.
In a letter to Broadland’s planning department, Mrs Monk said The Crown has been on the market for more than two years (for “offers in the region of £300,000” excluding VAT) and that no enquiries to retain the building as a public house have been received.
She added that the owner, Punch Taverns, has confirmed that “the use [as a public house] will have to cease as it is not viable for it to remain operating”.
“It is fully appreciated that the closure of local pubs is unfortunate and every attempt should be made to support their future,” Mrs Monk stated. “However, the emotion of the subject should not cloud the inevitable facts that if a business is not viable it cannot continue. Every attempt has been made for the building to be retained as a public house but without success.”
A report submitted by the Monks to Broadland in support of their new planning application states that trade at The Crown has consistently declined in recent years and that the customer base has now dwindled to an unsustainable level, with the barrelage (consumption) of beer and cider at less than 30 barrels in its 2012 financial year, according to Punch Taverns.
The report prepared by a chartered planning and development surveyor concludes that the building would require significant refurbishment and financial expenditure, which makes its use as a public house “no longer economically viable”.
It added that Punch Taverns has subsidised the pub in recent years and that without this financial support The Crown “could have closed many years ago”.
Comments on this planning application should be received by Broadland District Council no later than 29 June 2013:
- Online via the Planning Explorer using planning application reference number 20130672
- By post to the Planning Administration Team, Broadland District Council, Thorpe Lodge, 1 Yarmouth Road, Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich NR7 0DU, remembering to include the planning application reference number 20130672
- By e-mail to the Planning Administration Team, remembering to include the planning application reference number 20130672
Please note: any comments made will be available for public inspection.
Meanwhile, at its meeting on 13 June, Reepham Town Council has agreed to set up a Community Asset Register. It was proposed that The Crown be added to this Register immediately and that other community assets be added as soon as possible.
A listing on the Community Asset Register gives parish/town councils and eligible community groups time in which to organise a bid to save the asset. However, it does not remove the owner’s right to sell to anyone and at any price at the end of a six-month period.
Also at the meeting, a member of the public handed over more than 100 letters of objection to a change of use for The Crown, which the Town Council undertook to pass on to Broadland District Council.