Community unites to prevent village pub becoming a holiday let
- 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.
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”.
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.”
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.