Community unites to prevent village pub becoming a holiday let

Members of the Five Bells Inn Preservation Society outside the Five Bells Inn in Upwell.

Members of the Five Bells Inn Preservation Society outside the Five Bells Inn in Upwell. Pictured left to right: John Delaney, Graham Seaton, David Cooper, Heather Utteridge and Tom Walczak. - Credit: David Cooper

Villagers at risk of losing one of their pubs have formed a society in an attempt to prevent the building being converted into an upmarket holiday let.

The Five Bells Inn Preservation Society was recently formed after there was a “groundswell of support” for the Five Bells Inn in Upwell to remain as an inn and public house.

Earlier this year, a retrospective planning application was submitted to West Norfolk Council planners to convert the property into a nine-bedroom holiday let.

At the time, it was being advertised on websites at prices ranging from £5,000 to £9,000 a week and owners Christopher Robinson and James Brighty said the business failed to make a profit as a pub following its refurbishment.

Five Bells at Upwell which has closed as a pub and now offering holiday accommodation for groups of

Five Bells at Upwell which has closed as a pub and had been offering holiday accommodation for groups of up to 20 family members or friends. Formal consent is being sought from West Norfolk planners. - Credit: Five Bells

But the society says over 120 individuals opposed the holiday let plans and it is taking steps to formally "secure" the building as a community asset.

It says this would ensure “the asset is protected against any application for change of use, demolition or alteration” for at least five years initially.


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This also means the community would be given the first opportunity to purchase the property if any potential changes being proposed “could impact upon the asset or a sale”.

South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss (left) visited the Five Bells in Upwell in 2015 as it re-open

South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss (left) visited the Five Bells in Upwell in 2015 as it re-opened following extensive renovation. However in later years profits fell and owners now want to use it for holiday lets. - Credit: Liz Truss office

Five Bells, Upwell 

Inside the Five Bells Inn, Upwell  - Credit: Five Bells, Upwell 

Their press statement added: “The owners do have the right to make representations and to oppose the nomination if they wish to do so.

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“However it has been noted that the owners have previously expressed a view that this was an asset to be preserved for the community when they purchased the property it in 2015...

“... it is hoped that they will be minded to work with the society to achieve the aim of reopening the pub and to preserve it for the future.”

Five Bells, Upwell 

The Five Bells Inn, in Upwell, had been refurbished. - Credit: Five Bells, Upwell 

The society says its concept has already been presented to one of the owners, who is interested in continuing discussions once a decision has been made on the current retrospective application.

The Five Bells Inn Preservation Society has already been offered support from the Plunkett Foundation, which helped the King’s Arms in Shouldham, near King's Lynn, become a community-owned pub.

Anyone who would like to become a member should contact John Delaney, the society’s secretary, at F5bell@yahoo.com for an application form. It is free to join.

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