120 letters, 14,000 words written to council about Fenland pub's future

Five Bells at Upwell

West Norfolk Council has been engulfed with letters - mostly objecting - to a retrospective bid for change of use the Five Bells at Upwell. The bar and dining room area (as shown) will only be available to groups hiring the pub as a holiday let. - Credit: Holiday lets

Pub owners – praised by MP Liz Truss when they re-opened it six years ago – face a storm of protest over proposals to convert it permanently for upmarket holiday lets.  

More than 120 letters have been received by West Norfolk Borough Council commenting on the application, two thirds opposing the change of use.  

Business partners Christopher Robinson and James Brighty bought the Five Bells at Upwell in 2014 and re-opened it in the summer of 2015. 

But they have told the council that “after several years of declining profitability” it is no longer viable as a country pub.  

Five Bells, Upwell 

Five Bells, Upwell - Credit: Five Bells, Upwell 

Instead, they opted to turn it into a holiday let for groups – it is being advertised on websites at prices ranging from £5,000 to £9,000 a week.  


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Ms Truss visited shortly after it re-opened in 2015 and was “very impressed by the commitment from the Robinson-Brighty Partnership to get the inn fully functioning again”. 

Many of her constituents, however, are not impressed with the partners’ new plan to make it viable, and their views have been shared publicly on the council’s website where the change of use application has been lodged.  

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“No external alterations are proposed to the building or its curtilage and as such it is considered that the application proposal will have no material impact on surrounding heritage assets,” their agents told the council. 

But here is what the public has said about the proposals: the comments are taken directly from the council’s planning portal. 

Five Bells, Upwell 

Five Bells, Upwell - Credit: Five Bells, Upwell 

Mr John Mytton (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Sat 13 Mar 2021 

Every time I have been in there it has been pleasant with no trouble in it will be a big lost to a very nice village and be thought out 

Mrs Michelle Murray (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Sat 13 Mar 2021 

When the pub was open, we would regularly have meals and drinks and on occasion Sunday dinner too. A friendly, busy pub.  

I don't go anywhere where I don't feel comfortable so this must count for something as I went along on many occasions as a couple, a family, a group of friends and a member of a group too. It should stay as it is for the community. 
I never saw any antisocial behaviour or drug taking problems whenever I was there. 

Five Bells, Upwell 

Five Bells, Upwell - Credit: Five Bells, Upwell 

Mrs Sally Greaves (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Sat 13 Mar 2021 

We moved here in September 2017 and were delighted when the pub opened the following spring. We used to go to the pub at least twice a week for drinks and food and loved it. When family visited us from Bedfordshire/ Buckinghamshire or our daughter and her family in Australia we always went to the Five Bells. 

Ms Candida Richards (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Sat 13 Mar 2021 

The pub was an important amenity for the village, a place for residents of all ages to have the opportunity to socialise.  

If the current owners are unable to make it viable, it would be preferable for residents for them to try and sell it as a public house.  

The pub was open for only a short time since the current owners took it on and it would be a shame for this amenity to be lost forever without giving a new owner the opportunity to turn it around. 
 
In terms of visitors to the area, it will also make the village less attractive as a tourist destination with the loss of a family-friendly pub. 

Mrs R Gutteridge (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Sat 13 Mar 2021 

Mr Andrew Judd (Supports

Comment submitted date: Sat 13 Mar 2021 

I think the owners have tried the local community never used it, it should be used for holiday lets to bring more people to the village 

Miss Sarah Arden (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Sat 13 Mar 2021 

I am deeply saddened to hear that the Five Bells is wishing to change usage. When it re-opened, we were thrilled to have a local place to bike ride to and enjoy an affordable meal, drink and social place to spend time at.  

I am a firm believer in supporting local businesses and this is one I highly rated and would recommend to others. Everyone was always friendly and inviting, with a lovely atmosphere.  

My partner and I had many visits here and especially enjoyed the entertainment when it was organised. We were very disappointed to hear this would be changing use and no longer to be a vibrant pub where the community could meet and socialise. If the Five Bells is granted change of use it will be very disappointing and a major loss to our beautiful villages. 

Mr Peter Singfield (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Sat 13 Mar 2021 

We have lived here for 20years, and whilst it was an open well ran pub and restaurant, as a family, it was our go to pub in the village 
Since it closed for refurbishment, it feels like the current owners have half-heartedly opened to manipulate the amount of people who would go to the pub, enabling them to produce accounts with poor returns 


As a village it is an important resource that should provide food and drink and accommodation for local families 


It was the only pub that had an outside space where kids could be and pub grub was served 


The village has grown and if the pub was opened as a family friendly venue, then it could return to what it was prior to closure 
furthermore, the parish council has a duty to its parishioners to be transparent about its involvement with this application 


It should not be passed without further investigation and openness to enable the local community to know exactly what is going on with this application 
I am not related to and have no personal involvement with the applicants 


I do not know them; however, I feel that this resource is important to village life and every effort should be made to keep it operating as a family friendly pub 

Mr Matthew Bellamy (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Sat 13 Mar 2021 

Unfortunately, like most local pubs now they are un-viable to run nowadays. The owners have clearly tried and are trying to make something viable out of this building. Further public houses are within walking distance of this former pub. 

Five Bells, Upwell 

Five Bells, Upwell - Credit: Five Bells, Upwell 

Mrs Patricia Wilkinson (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Fri 12 Mar 2021 

It should be the heart of the village, there is very little else No decent public transportation to any locations in evenings and weekends for meals entertainment

Mr Alastair Chambers (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Fri 12 Mar 2021 

This pub has a good following locally and is quite clearly an asset of community value, the more so considering the number of licensed premises which have closed recently. 
 
It stands in a very advantageous position close to the Well Creek which has very good moorings installed almost by the pub. 
 
As almost any boater using Well Creek will testify the moorings are frequently busy, often full and many of the crews will visit the pub and shops bringing some tourist revenue in. 
 
Without the 5 Bells it is like that far fewer will stop in Upwell. 

Mr John Kok (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Thu 11 Mar 2021 

My wife and I are not in agreement with the change of use to the five bells pub. The present owners have said it is not a viable proposition in its present state, and if this is so then the property should be put up for sale at market price.  

If nobody comes forward after a period of time this being determined by the council then a change of use should be considered. A pub is a focal point in the village where people meet and make new friends. 
 

Mr John Delaney (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Thu 11 Mar 2021 

I would like to register my objection to the retrospective change of usage to "Let" for the Five Bells Pub. 
The pub is the centre of the community for Upwell and the surrounding area and changing the usage to "Let" will have a profound impact on the village and surrounding communities. 
Changing the usage to "Let" is surely contradicting Upwell's own Neighbourhood Plan. 
 
Under the policies heading "Economy and Tourism" I quote, "Narrowboats and other leisure boats already use the waterways and there is a widespread belief that this activity should be encouraged to grow".  

The Five Bells attracts a large number of boaters to Upwell and not all of them are locals, a vast majority of the boaters come from outside Norfolk and eat at the Five Bells and top up their supplies in the village.  

If there is no Five Bells, there is less reason for the boaters to stop and moor there, they will simply move on to March where they can have a good meal and buy their supplies. In fact, the Well Creek has been noted as a major asset within the Neighbourhood Plan and identified as a good avenue to pursue for increasing tourism in the village and this won't be easily achievable without the Five Bells. 
 
Under the policies heading "Leisure and Recreation" the plan mentions that a lot of the parishioners felt there could be more leisure activities in the village and yet because the parish council isn't objecting to the retrospective planning change to "Let" it will be helping to remove one of the very few community lead leisure activities in the village. 
 
Under the policies heading "Housing", I quote "The Neighbourhood Plan will plan to deliver at least 45 new dwellings through allocations to meet housing need".

Historic view of the Five Bells, Upwell, taken from the archives.

Historic view of the Five Bells, Upwell, taken from the archives. - Credit: Archives


The building of new dwellings will create more potential customers for the Five Bells and will generate more pressure on the village to have more leisure venues. Changing the Five Bells to "Let" will unnecessarily increase pressure even further on the parish council, who are supposed to serve the community. 
 
The Five Bells has applied for change of use retrospectively, as it has been operating as a property to "Let" for the last 12 months. This on its own is illegal and nobody on the parish council seems to be concerned. Furthermore, the Five Bells to my knowledge, hasn't been offered for sale over the statutory 12 months. 
 
Finally, the objectives of the BCKLWN Plan Reviews 2019 LP32 - Community and Culture policy 7.9.1 is "Planning is about more than just physical land use.  

It is essential that planning policy aims to improve the wellbeing of local communities by tackling social issues, and creating the right conditions for people to have a good quality of life".  

The parish council has totally disregarded the majority view in the village, which is to object to the Five Bells retrospective change of usage. 
 

 
On the behalf of the Well Creek Trust committee, I would like to register its opposition to the Five Bells change of usage to "Let".  
 
1.) The Five Bells pub is a popular place with Well Creek boaters who travel from places as far away as Northampton and Wales and look forward to using our Church mooring located next to the Five Bells 
 
2.) The mooring can accommodate three 18 metre narrowboats or 8 four berth boats at one time and is always fully used.  
 
3.) The attraction to the mooring is due to the good reputation of the family friendly Five Bells pub and the beautiful surroundings of the plants and shrubs that grow along the banks of the mooring. 
 
4.) It is often said that the Pub and the mooring complement each other.  
 
5.) Because of the informal partnership between the 2 locations, we always have the latest copy of the pub's menu displayed on our noticeboard. 
 
6.) The Five Bells along with our mooring has been featured in several news journals and boating magazines and is one of the main reasons why the mooring is so popular and busy.  
 
7.) This informal partnership brings focus to the boating fraternity, who venture into the village to restock their boats. This amenity is spread by word of mouth amongst the boaters, as well as the journals. 
 
8.) The Well Creek Trust reached its' 50th anniversary last year and the centre of the celebrations was planned around the Five Bells, the mooring and the village hall. The celebrations wouldn't be the same without the pub which would have been the foundations to the daytime family celebrations in the village. 
 
9.) In 2018, 920 boats used the Creek and a further 697 in 2019. A lot of these boats stop at the mooring on route to Ely, or west to Northampton and beyond. The Figures quoted are courtesy of the Middle Level Commissioners. 
 
10.) Changing the usage to "Let" will be taking away a major benefit of the visit to our Creek, as well as the village. 
 
Finally, the Well Creek isn't just used by local boaters who reside in the villages along the Creek, as stated above it is used by a wider boating community who call in at the Five Bells pub during their onward journey. 
 
John Delaney 
Well Creek Trust 
Secretary 
 
Mr Roger Mungham (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Thu 11 Mar 2021 

My wife and I have been customers at the Five Bells P H for 30 years and will sadly miss this amenity so please don't grant this application 

Mr Paul Lunn (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Mon 08 Mar 2021 

As a local resident who often ate with friends at the Five Bells I strongly object to the change of use.  

Five Bells, Upwell 

Five Bells, Upwell - Credit: Five Bells, Upwell 

The Five Bells was a valuable asset to the village as a meeting point, not only for friends but for many local clubs etc. I know of people who moved into the village largely because of the attraction of having a village pub which served food. 
 

With a good manager, chef and staff I can't see how it could fail to be a viable business. The bedrooms offer excellent overnight accommodation and the riverside location is most attractive. 
The loss of this pub would be a big mistake in my opinion and I know many others share my views. 

Mr Alan Culley (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Mon 08 Mar 2021 

I agree with all the comments already made so far that object to the change of use of The Five Bells to a holiday let property. 
 
The emails from Mr Cooper, Ms Haynes, Mr Delaney (Well Creek Trust) and Mr Seaton are particularly compelling and I urge the Borough Council to consider their submissions very carefully. 
 
Judging by its obvious popularity before the pandemic I find the submission that the Five Bells was financially unviable difficult to believe and I do not think that holiday lettings will be a more lucrative alternative. 
 
I fear that the next step will be an application for change of use to residential flats. 

Mr Anthony Coles (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Sun 07 Mar 2021 

As a family we were very disappointed when The Five Bells at Upwell closed, as we were regular visitors to the establishment for meals...Very pleasant location, hospitable staff and friendly atmosphere. It will be a great loss to us and many locals. 

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

Mr Gerald Willmott (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Sun 07 Mar 2021 

Dear Sirs, 
I wish to register the strongest OBJECTION to this application for Change of Use. 
I have only been in the village 3 years but once the Bells opened my family and friends have been fairly a regular customer. It being not only walking distance from home but the ONLY family type hostelry, that served both reasonable food and decent beer, within a comfortable and welcoming ambience. 
 

I have surveyed All the Comments to date, both Objections and Supporting statements. In the interests of brevity, I do not wish to repeat the many erudite submissions, with which I am in full agreement.  

I however, would like to highlight a few particularly comprehensive, well researched submissions that cover, in my view, all the salient points, both from the viewpoint of the objections and particularly the comments that counter the rather weak Supporting arguments. 
In no particular order I draw your attention to the points made by the following: - 
 
Mrs H Utteridge 
Mr J Delaney 
Ms S Haynes 
Mr D Cooper 
Mr W Smith 
Ms K Copeman
 
 
To permit this application would not only be a major blow for the community but it appears from the above submissions, could also be underwriting an illegal activity. 
 

I urge the Borough Council to reject this application and the Parish Council to be proactive and ACTIVELY seek to support any measures which would enable the Bells to reopen and once again serve the community. 

Mr Peter HARNWELL (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Sun 07 Mar 2021 

With reference to the retrospective change of use of The Five Bells Inn, 1 New Road, Upwell. I support this application. 

 
The Five Bells was crying out for a complete make over, refurbishment after years of neglect. At last local businessmen carried out that task to a very high standard, completion in 2018 I am sure to the satisfaction of the local community. 

 
I visited the premises on several occasions during the period 2018-2019. May I say the meals served were value for money and the ambience perfect. 

 
Initially the premises were very busy during the Summer of 2018. Very good weather, outside T.V. football, holiday makers, locals and those who were curious. Not forgetting bed and breakfast. 
However, it would appear, that during the onset of the Winter Months, trade dwindled as did the local trade. As a result, the opening hours of the premises were reduced for obvious reasons. Lack of supportive trade. 

 
A classic example. I visited the premises on a Wednesday evening during November. Three males drinking in the bar area. Only 3 pints of beer were consumed in one hour. No other customers during that period. No local support on that occasion. I do have sympathy for the few locals who attended on a regular basis. Where were others. 

 
You cannot expect to run a successful business under those circumstances without the complete support of the local community. 

 
It is a fact that use of Public houses, Inns have changed with the advancement of the modern society living. In the past a Public House/Inn was the central focus of village life. Dominoes, darts, cribbage, bar billiards. Later pool, bandit machines and electronic games. 
An effort was made to encourage the use of the FIVE BELLS by the local community, it would appear, sadly failed. 

 
I support the retrospective change. It will ensure that at least, the premises will be maintained to a high standard, the outside character of the premises remains. Continual use rather than left empty leading to its deterioration. 

 
There are other local licences premises with in the catchment area. May I respectfully suggest that there be no delay in your final decision.  

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 now 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

Mr Peter Hartley (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Sat 06 Mar 2021 

I wish to object to the retrospective change of use of Five Bells P H to holiday lets. 
 

As Churchwarden of St Peters Church Upwell, I feel this change of use would lead to potential disturbance to church services. Whereas as a PH the landlord would have control through licensing hours. 
 

There is existing Bed and breakfast accommodation at the Five Bells and other places in the village, the clientele of which frequently use the Five Bells restaurant. 
This is a valuable village amenity which needs protection 

Ms Karen Stanley (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Sat 06 Mar 2021 

I object to the change of use of the Five Bells Inn to holiday lets. It was one of the attractions when moving to Upwell so, with additional housing and a growing population, the village needs to retain the character and social amenities provided by a family-friendly pub. 
 
A change of use to a 9-bedroom holiday let, which would appear to have a limited market, could potentially make this another loss-making venture for the owners and further lack of benefit for the village. 
 
Gastro pubs in Norfolk seem to do extremely well so if the current owners/managers were unable to realise the potential of this pretty pub in a lovely riverside location with a growing local market then I agree with other residents that a purchase opportunity should be given to buyers who already recognise the requirements for an English country pub to remain viable. 
 
A new owner could increase profitability, along with local employment and knock-on local economic benefit. Inn accommodation could be offered while still retaining the social amenities of this lovely village pub for local residents and tourists alike, especially as the covid risks reduce and we begin to return to normality. 
 

Mr David Barnard (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Sat 06 Mar 2021 

The Five Bells is a central hub of the village and was the only facility where locals could meet and eat locally. The council planners have a let all the other amenities to be closed for dubious redevelopments.  

This type of use has been shown to cause problems with noise bad behaviour the old chapel in Town Street is let out in the same way. These venues encourage and uncontrolled parties with no consideration for residents.  

As former borough and parish councillor siting on planning committees the local residents must be considered. It seems clear that this is route the owners make a fast buck. We need to stop these developments to preserve the rural area and not destroy any more local amenities 

Mr Grahame Seaton (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Sat 06 Mar 2021 

I wish to Object to the Retrospective Change of Use to Holiday Let at The Five Bells Inn, Upwell. 
 

According the emerging Upwell Neighbourhood Plan in 2011 there were 2,750 residents in Upwell. 
This will now be higher due to the large number of new dwellings being built in the village. 
 

Also, according to the Upwell Neighbourhood Plan the Parish Councilors have set out their Vision, Aims and Objectives for the village. 
 

Number 1 on their Objective List is "To provide opportunities for all the community to access Community,Cultural,Leisure and Sports Activities..." 
 

The Five Bells is a Community Facility. 
Number 9 on their list is "To support attractive and viable Village Centres. 
The Five Bells is the centre of the village and next to St Peters Church. 
 

By agreeing with its Change of Use the Parish Council is going against its own Neighbourhood Plan. 
They are also supporting an illegal Change of Use as the Application is contrary to POLICY DM(of the Borough Councils Development Management Policy. 
This states that " The Council will encourage the Retention of Existing Community Facilities..." 
 

It also states " That in the case of Shops or Pubs/Restaurants the applicant can demonstrate genuine attempts to market and sell the use as an ongoing concern for a 12 MONTH period. 
This has not been done by the owners who claim in their Planning Application that the business was running at a loss. 
I would strongly suggest that they should follow Planning Rules and see what happens. 

Mrs Marion Copeman (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Sat 06 Mar 2021 

I strongly object to The Five Bells public house changing its usage. 
The village needs a pub doing food it was an asset to the village. 
 

I used to use it regularly when my family visited it was nice proper English pub to go for a nice meal. 
If it loses its pub status it will be a big loss to the village and surrounding area. 

Ms Susie Haynes (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Fri 05 Mar 2021 

I would like to strongly object to the change of use from a public house. 
My reasons are as follows 
COMMUNITY ASSET 
A Pub in the centre of the village is a valuable community asset and attracts both visitors and residents to our village. 
 

The pub was renovated to a high standard and opened in April 2018 and quickly it became a popular, valued venue for B&B accommodation, meals & snacks as well as a coffee or drink. It had a welcoming ambience for locals & local groups to visit.  

The function room was a great place to have celebrations for larger groups. The local walking group & Gardening club both used it for Christmas meals.  

The walking group also dropped in for refreshment at the end of walks. It was a place anyone on their own would be comfortable to enter to meet friends which I think is a great way to judge the atmosphere of a pub. 
It has been suggested that alternative licensed establishments are available but this pub is in the historic centre of Upwell and is in a different, valued, calibre to the only other pub in the village of Upwell. A private club or a village hall is not an alternative to a public house. 
 

As a rural community if in the future for environmental reasons (not pandemic related), we are encouraged to stay closer to home it would make a decent local pub such as The Five Bells even more essential to the village. I believe if the change of use is granted this venue will lost forever to us as a community hub which would be shocking after so many years. 
 

There are comments on the application from supporters regarding ASB and drug use. I could find no references to support this on the Norfolk Police Crime map between Apr 2018 to Dec 2020 and after speaking to some neighbours, neither they or I was aware of any trouble being associated with pub that would deter us from visiting it. 
 
VIABILITY 
Viability has been mentioned but without seeing accounts for the period April 2018 to Mar 2020 when the pub was open and trading it is hard to challenge this.  

Whilst many pubs & restaurants diversified during the pandemic by offering various essential services to the locals such as food parcels, takeaway food etc the Five Bells decided to pursue private holiday letting without applying for a change of use. 
 
 
With good management, good marketing and a good chef this pub is perfectly placed to have a healthier trading future. Examples of successful local pubs I would compare it to are The Lamb & Flag at Welney or The Heron at Stowbridge. 
 

The village is expanding and looking to the future housing development in Upwell, the Upwell Parish Neighbourhood Plan identified at least 2 allocation sites (6.1 for 20 houses & 6.3 for 15 houses) within a fraction over ¼ mile walking distance of the Five Bells PH. Most people buying a house relish having a pub within walking distance. 
 

The Five Bells is on a main through road, the A1101, and the nearby canal has a landing stage very close, perfect as a refreshment stopping point with the right signage. 
Upwell could easily attract more tourists to it with its lovely waterways for fishing & boating, its connection to Upwell Tramway & Rev Awdry, proximity to the nature reserve WWT Welney and only 30 mins form Ely. 
 

If the Five Bells continues to trade as a pub with B&B accommodation, again with the right marketing, it is surely a better tourist asset to the village than a single holiday let for a group. 
I hope the Planning committee will check out these viability claims of the owners by using the Public House Viability Test (PHVT) created by CAMRA. 

 If the committee feel they lack either the necessary skills or capacity to do this themselves or want a third-party opinion before reaching a conclusion they can always contact the District Valuer Service, the property arm of the Valuation Office Agency, who provides independent financial viability advice to local planning authorities; such advice is delivered nationally from their network of regional offices. 
 
LOCAL EMPLOYMENT 
If the pub continues to trade as a pub with B&B accommodation it will provide more valuable employment opportunities in the area than it would as a holiday let. 
 
As a resident in the village, I was hoping that the Upwell Parish Council would recognise what an essential asset a public house is to any village as a central meeting point for villagers & in particular what the Five Bells can offer to Upwell and submit an objection.  

I was disappointed that it has "been unable to identify Material Grounds for refusal of this retrospective application". I wonder how hard they looked to find any given that one of the owners of the Five Bells is a member of the Upwell Parish Council? 
I repeat, I strongly object to this application for change of use. 
 

Mr David Cooper (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Fri 05 Mar 2021 

I reside at 51 Town Street Upwell which is directly opposite The Five Bells Inn, Upwell, the subject of the present application for retrospective approval for a change of use from a Public House to Holiday let.  

I have lived here since 1986 and have therefore seen the changes and developments that have taken place at the Five Bells over that period.  

The business has experienced difficulties over the years and the acquisition by Mr Brighty and Mr Robinson following encouragement from approximately 400 local residents, brought with it hope for a sustained future as the local pub for the village. It appeared that they were doing well with the support from the appointed manager and Chef.  

It is disappointing to note that despite the efforts so far it has proven to be a loss-making enterprise to date. Additionally, the Covid issue has not helped the financial aspect although this will, to some extent, have been alleviated with the Government assistance.  

The reasons set out in the Planning, Design and Access Statement and the Business Plan provided for the decision to change the use are understood. It is unclear, however, why the application for change of use was not made when it was decided to take that route of closing the pub which appears to have been considered after ascertaining that a loss for the period ending in 2019 was unacceptable to the owners. 

 I note that this is still subject to investigation by the Enforcement Officer who will no doubt carefully consider the reasons for this oversight. 
 

Despite the fact that the business has sustained a loss the main issue that I am concerned about is the potential loss of an important and historical Public House/Inn which has been central to the village of Upwell for many hundreds of years and remains an important focal point for residents and visitors alike.  

Whilst the proposal will see the building remain its availability as a meeting place, community hub, and general tourist amenity will be lost if its use is changed to just a 'holiday let' with no access for the public to the bar or Restaurant.  

To this extent I consider that it is essential that before determining the application members of the community should be given the opportunity to explore the possibility of acquiring the premises with a view to it becoming a community asset and remaining as a local pub. It is and has always been an 'Inn' so there is the option of providing accommodation as well. It ought to remain classified as an 'Inn'.  

The Localism Act 2011 clearly provides a mechanism to allow steps to be taken and the Government has announced support for such ventures in view of the impact of Covid.  

Consequently, the present deadline for determination of the application should be extended to allow for an appropriate timetable for such steps to be taken.  

It may be that as a consequence negotiation can result in this property becoming a community asset but if not, it will have allowed all concerned to at least explore the option which does not appear to have been explored at present.  

This option ought to be encouraged and supported by both the Parish Council and the Borough Council. It may also be the case that a third party may be willing to negotiate a purchase of the premises with a view to securing it as The Five Bells Inn and to this extent there would be no requirement to change the use. 
 

I note that the Upwell Parish Council have already submitted a statement to the effect that they have been unable to identify any material grounds for refusal of the application but this is to be discussed at the Council meeting on the 8th March 2021. It is not clear to what extent the Council have considered representations from members of the Parish or how they have arrived at this conclusion.  

Hopefully this will be explained and if additional comments are to be presented, they will contact you. 
The property is adjacent to a Grade I Listed Building (St Peter's Church) and a Grade II listed building (Welle Manor) and I see that the David Gold of Welle Manor Hall does not support or object to the application but makes observations in the second paragraph of his email about the facility for the community. I agree with his comments in this regard. 
 

I consider that before making the determination it is incumbent upon the planning authority to investigate and consider: 
 

(a) Have the owners made every reasonable effort to secure a suitable business development to ensure it remains as a Pub/Inn? This may include seeking expressions of interest from third parties for purchasing the premises as an Inn. 
 

(b) To what extent is the pub used or valued as a local facility, community hub or amenity? 
 

(c) Does the view that the pub was and is not economically viable, have regard to demographic circumstances, a challenging market environment but reflects the need and opportunity to improve appeal, management and takes into account the Government support for such businesses? 
 

(d) The significant historical importance of the building as a functioning pub/Inn, its prominence as a hub for the community, its facilities to the visiting tourists especially those turning up at St Peter's Church and now the anticipated additional numbers wanting to view the Upwell Tram mementos (over 2000 views on YouTube to the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ix-8NOc9upE). 
 

( f) The relevance of the provisions of the Localism Act 2011 permitting the community to have the opportunity to seek to acquire the pub for the community and the recent Government support on offer for such ventures 
 

(g) Is there any impact having regard to the local development plan? The National Planning Policy Framework includes provision for planning applications to be determined in accordance with the development plan including supporting a prosperous rural community and 'the retention and development of accessible local services and community facilities such as local shops, meeting places, sports venues, open space, cultural buildings, public houses and places of worship.'  

There is provision relating to tourism but in a situation such as this there is a conflict between the need for ' the range of accommodation which will continue to positively contribute to the local economy.' and 'the retention and development etc.'.  

There appears to be many factors available to support the retention more so than supporting the local economy by adding the holiday accommodation.  

I see that in an email dated 9 February 'Tim' of 3D states ' the effect of the application is to close the pub and convert the whole of the premises to a single story let with 9 rooms-thus there is no change to the number of letting rooms.' This being the case why is this necessary bearing in mind that the Five Bells Inn does offer accommodation as it stands so the case for a change of use is not, in my view, made out. 
 

(h) There needs to be a thorough analyses of the history of the Five Bells Inn, its ownership, its setting, context, other similar facilities, use by local residents and the complexity of the land designations so as to meet the criteria for local policy.  

It does not appear, at present, that all elements have been analysed. Until such time as the matters set out above are explored and addressed, I do not consider that it is possible to properly and fully determine the application. I therefore oppose the grant of the application and await publication of a full report on the outcome of the consultation. 
Hopefully the owners will be able to review the position with a view to exploring the possibility of alternative arrangements in order to secure it as going concern as an Inn. 
 

Mr William Smith (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Thu 04 Mar 2021 


In modern times many local volunteers have dedicated an incalculable number of hours to enhance the villages adjacent to the banks of the Well Creek and the extremities of Norfolk. 
 

The magnificent churches, refurbished waterway and the Wisbech to Upwell Tram mementoes have greatly enhanced the area encouraging visitors to spend time here; many of them have decided to stay.  

The Five Bells was fast becoming a much sought-after Fenland venue and a great asset to the area. Unfortunately for all hospitality businesses, things have been difficult so it is understandable why the owners feel they need to recoup their investments. 
 

But this should be done within the law and comply with all the regulations also taking into consideration public opinion where plausible. That of course includes correctly informing the public and particularly near neighbours what is being proposed.  

If the current situation is unsatisfactory why not allow others the opportunity to continue with what might be a lucrative business. 
Saving the Five Bells public house as an amenity has to be of paramount importance and a time for the community to unite and fight to prevent losing the heart of a beautiful village. 
 
The Five Bells is reported to date from 1794 but in fact, existed much before that time. It is sited amid over 25 listed buildings and monuments in the centre of the village. Along with Archway House, it was a staging post where coach and horses from Kings Lynn to Ely were rested.  

Additionally, like most ancient public houses, it was a local landmark for traders. 
I am sure the Five Bells could once again become another vital amenity for the area if retained. 
 
 

Mr Gerald Harnwell (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Thu 04 Mar 2021 

Having lived in the Village all my life, the Five Bells pub has always been part of the Village scene and a great asset to the community with different Landlords bringing their own ideas to improve the pub over the years. 
 

I think if a good Landlord took over the Five Bells again and kept the Restaurant food to a good standard and price, customers would return and with increase of housing in the Village and boating  

on the Well Creek, this should improve the customer base of the pub. 
With the Five Bells being close to the Church and Village Hall, both have combined to do venues for Weddings, Wakes and Christenings, which also bring extra revenue for local shops etc. 
I strongly oppose the change of the Five Bells Pub and Restaurant to an Airbnb. 
 

Miss Samantha Henworth (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Wed 03 Mar 2021 

It would be a huge shame for a village public house to disappear at a time when community will be desperate to have an outlet for gatherings after this pandemic, as a public house is open to all ages.  

The location is incredible, next to a wonderful historic church, canal side views, across from the village hall and playing fields, with these points in mind it is so integral to the village way of life which is the future again. 

Mr Mark Roberts (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Wed 03 Mar 2021 

Disappointing to potentially loose an established public house of heritage which could be integral in aiding the recovery of village life after the pandemic. 

Mr Martin Jones (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Wed 03 Mar 2021 

5 pubs in 2 villages plus 2 village halls with alcohol licenses. Sat between 2 Wetherspoons did not stand a chance. Owners are Diversifying WHY NOT 

Mrs Elizabeth Day (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Wed 03 Mar 2021 

This beautiful pub was previously an enormous asset to the village. People living locally and lots from outside the village would come to meet friends here.  

Many of us who live locally would eat and drink there regularly as it was an enjoyable, friendly environment with the added bonus that we could walk home. 
 
With so much new housing in the village I fail to see how, with the proper management, friendly bar staff and a good chef the Five Bells could fail to make a profit. I feel the absence of the Village Pub would be to the detriment of property prices. 
 
Regarding the comments about anti-social behaviour, drugs etc. this is where stringent management would need to be implemented. 
 
Certainly, I have overheard boaters either being complimentary about the facility or bemoaning the fact that they couldn't get a table because it was fully booked and they had previously enjoyed eating there. 
 
The current owners have undoubtedly refurbished it to a very high standard and the rooms available for short or longer stays are superb, so there is no reason why the premises cannot operate as a holiday destination in conjunction with it being run as a pub/restaurant. I'm sure a large room could be made available for private hire if several families who were residents wanted to gather for a celebration or other occasion. 
 
PLEASE SAVE OUR VILLAGE GEM FOR THE VILLAGE. 
 

Mr Paul Steed (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Wed 03 Mar 2021 

would like to keep as a local pub to serve the village 

Mrs Sheena Hartley (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 02 Mar 2021 

I have been working on a public mooring for the last five years on behalf of Well Creek Trust. The narrow-boats come from near and far and when the Five Bells opened, it felt amazing.  

It changed the atmosphere in the village. The boats drew up onto my mooring and on many occasions, the pub was already fully booked. the pub was so popular. We had a heart of the village back again and the guests to our area, were bowled over.  

The village had such a buzz and people genuinely enjoyed the food and the camaraderie. As a single person, I felt comfortable to go into the pub my myself and have a coffee, a drink and many meals! I miss is dreadfully. 
The boats this year will be so disappointed, but not only them, myself and many visitors and locals. we deserve to have a good village pub... please bring back our village’s heart. Save our pub. 

Ms Katrina Copeman (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Mon 01 Mar 2021 

It would be a great shame to lose this asset from our village. The pub is a hub of the community which is used regularly as a meeting point for many.  

It is the perfect central location for villagers to enjoy local food and drink and socialise with picture perfect surroundings. 
 

Upwell is not a "holiday" destination. It would serve the community much better to remain as a pub which everyone can enjoy.  

Rather than a holiday let which renders it completely useless other than to the owners and very few locals who would be employed. Keep the local pub for the village to enjoy.  

The only alternative is The Globe and this is not a place I would wish to visit anytime soon based on the standard of the establishment and the type of people who frequent it. 
 

The 5 Bells is an asset to our village and every effort should be made to keep it as a pub. 

Mr Billy Ryan (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Mon 01 Mar 2021 

We need this in our village we have many memories here with my children and family 

Miss Kasey Fostee (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Mon 01 Mar 2021 

If you are going to get rid of the Five Bells then you are ridiculous! It's a lovely pub and everyone in the local area has a lovely time there as it's in the centre.  

This will make the whole of Upwell and Outwell so sad! Please save the five bells! 

Miss Jade Copeman (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Mon 01 Mar 2021 

There are no good pubs in Upwell, we need this one. Save the pubs! 

Mrs Tara Rust (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Mon 01 Mar 2021 

I feel very strongly that the loss of the five bells would be a great mistake made. The pub is in the centre of a large village that has a busy river running through it.  

The pub was a perfect stopping place for people on boats, cyclists and other people passing through the village. There are no other restaurants in the area that provide 'pub grub' in a family friendly environment. It provided employment for several local residents.  

The villages are growing in size with new housing developments popping up in Upwell and its surrounding villages. I believe that taking away the village pub will result in the building either being knocked down completely or at least turned into flats.  

The pub has not been managed properly for years as the owners brought it but never actually were seen in it. I'm afraid it all boils down to money and not what's best for the village. 

Mrs Heather Utteridge (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Mon 01 Mar 2021 

I note the applicant's situation that the Five Bells Business made a huge loss for the last year of Business, but this is not a basis for making decisions regards planning applications and should be disregarded. An alternative owner may be able to change this. 
 
The worrying points are the following as evidenced by the Sykes website etc and by statements by the owners. 
 
There cannot be any relevant insurance, whether buildings or public liability in place, because an underwriter will take into account all possible factors, this is a different risk class if a Pub with a responsible person specified to a holiday let. 
 
Covid 19, this is advertised and has been used, when the rule of 6 applied and at present it will still be in place for some time, the Sykes site simply states the much larger number it may cater for. This is illegal. 
 
There may be confusion regards business class, i.e. C3 if the Council likes to check with the judgement of Moore v the Secretary of State, the size and number of possible people is relevant, this has not been taken into account by the statement. 
 
I think the owners are confused regards alcohol sales, it states that the renters can be supplied with alcohol at cost, I am sure this is to be helpful. However, under 18s can drink at home or in a private residence, but a holiday rental is not a private home, the supply is under Council licencing and under 18s cannot imbibe. If the Police attend the underage drinker is liable as are those who supply. No doubt the licencing committee will deal with this. 
 
It is stated that a local lady has cleaned the premise for the renters, where are the written protocols for this, what PPE is used and supplied, In view of possible new variants and in order to reduce risk to the local village, this actually requires addressing. 
 
The loss of a central amenity is a shame, it will impact on the local trade from the boaters and also those who may walk within the village , however if the Council may address the various and relevant issues such as no insurance, the fact remains that this existed with no planning permissions. 
 

Mrs Paula Syred (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Mon 01 Mar 2021 

Pubs are the heart of local communities and too many are closing. Could the pub not just be sold and remain used as a pub?  

I believe there is local will for this to happen. I know at weekends our narrowboat customers on day boats and holiday boats struggled to get tables at The Five Bells because the place was busy.  

Situated on the banks of Well Creek with visitor moorings for 8 boats pre the pandemic the pub was well supported by visitors and locals alike.  

The planning committee may be interested in the fact that the value of boating tourism in the UK leads to a day visit spend of £47.25 per person and an overnight spend of £94.50 per person in the locality* a good proportion of which is spent on food and drink in local pubs and restaurants. *The economic benefits of UK boating tourism 2017-2018 source British Marine 

Mrs JOANNE SEATON (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Mon 01 Mar 2021 

we need to keep the pub in the village. Property not been on market for anyone to buy so this application should not be allowed, especially as there is a member of our village who would buy it 

Mr John Copeman (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Sun 28 Feb 2021 

My wife and I have lived in the village all our lives, as do two of our daughters and their families, a third daughter lives in the neighbouring village of Outwell but still used the pub and restaurant on many weekends as we all did, and on numerous occasions had family birthday meals and social gatherings. 

We made a lot of friends and always found it a friendly atmosphere although I did feel that after it had been refurbished as time went by the owners wanted it to be more of a restaurant than a pub which I feel started to put people off going in for a drink which is all valuable trade and what a village pub should be about. 

 I feel very strongly that Upwell needs the Five Bells inn, surely with all the housing that is taking place around here there must be a need for places for people to socialise, 
 

You couldn't get a better situated village pub than the Five Bells with the main road running past the door, and the river only yards from it, which has an increasing number of users 
 

If this pub can't be run successfully with the right people in it then on pub can, it's got a lot more going for it than many other pubs that you see about' 
If the present owners claim there was a lack of trade, why didn't they put more signage up letting people know that there is a village pub and restaurant in Upwell, a lot of trade was missed by passing through traffic that were not aware there was a pub and restaurant in the village as they were looking where they were going. 
 

Many people travel miles to see what we have on our doorstep and we are losing a big part of it and I feel strongly this pub should never be allowed to be change to a holiday let 
 

Mrs Carrie Norman (Objects

Comment submitted date: Sun 28 Feb 2021 

The Five Bells pub has been part of the community for years. We moved into the village several years ago.  

When the pub reopened a couple of years ago, we became regular customers. We met many new people and began to become part of the community through the social inks we made in the pub.  

The availability of good value pub food mid-week was also a great asset to the community. This also meant older members of the community used the pub and were less isolated. There was a thriving monthly quiz, which was very well attended, and once again it bought the community together. The pub and the village hall also complimented each other, both venues were often used for weddings or christenings and there was a partnership.  

The Five Bells is also situated next to the church; another good link and reason for people to choose Upwell. It is a good venue for wedding/Christening/wakes.  

There is a mooring outside the Five Bells, this was a great place for boats to stop to drink and eat; it was another reason for visitors to come to the area. It was also a place for people visiting the area to stay and eat. So, it added value to the village and complimented other economies such as the local shops.  

There is a good deal of new housing in the village and so a growing population. Upwell and Outwell are thriving villages, with a good selection of local shops and businesses; closing a local pub, which is at the heart of the community is a backward and worrying step. 

Mr John Richardson (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Sat 27 Feb 2021 

The Five Bells is in the heart of the village and has been over the years a successful Inn due, during the good times, to careful and well thought through management.  

There is no reason why this cannot be achieved again but there has to be a sustained will to do this. No village pub thrives during the weekdays except perhaps during the holiday times but evenings can be effectively put to good use.  

When the Five Bells did reopen it was especially busy at weekends and food was good. It was a pleasant, comfortable and sociable venue and this is what we need to have back.  

More and more housing is being built in the area and there is little to offer either residents or visitors passing through, we need to have a village pub that caters for this and is supported by the community.  

An Airbnb will bring little of value to the village because people who book it will go elsewhere to eat and spend their money. 

Ms Erin Hughes (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Fri 26 Feb 2021 

Allowing the pub to be used as a B&B makes it easier to turn it into housing in the future 

Mr Steven Jones (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Fri 26 Feb 2021 

I feel that it would be a great shame for the village to lose the pub and restaurant. It serves as local amenity for many and would be a loss to the community in general. 

Mrs Cilla Adcock (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Fri 26 Feb 2021 

We moved to Upwell 10 months ago and are disappointed at this change of use application. Upwell cannot afford to lose an amenity such as this, particularly following the previous year's lockdowns.  

My understanding is that previously it was enjoyed as a pub and restaurant and would strongly oppose change of use. The village is not suited to large numbers of possible 'hen' and 'stag' parties.  

There is little other entertainment in Upwell and I believe as a pub and restaurant would now become well supported and financially sustaining. 

Mr David Gritton (Objects

Comment submitted date: Thu 25 Feb 2021 

My wife and I used this pub regularly when it was open. It was always a pleasurable experience and we miss it greatly. The pub was the heart and soul of the village which almost now feels like a village without a pulse. 

I have reviewed the comments made by the supporters of this application and don't recognise a name amongst them. I doubt whether they have the villages well-being at heart. 
 

As for drug taking and fighting, so often mentioned by supporters, what tosh. As for other reasons given, they are laughable. 
 

Whoever has made this decision to trample over 200 years of village history, is no friend of this village. 

Mr Brian Thompson (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Thu 25 Feb 2021 

Due to the changing status of public houses from being places of comfort to meet and greet friends in a placid atmosphere where the community could keep pace with what was happening in the village to what we have now. 

 Inns/pubs are now places where all kinds of behaviour and abuse are freely carried on by the elements of the population that gain courage and endeavour through the intake of alcohol. The village would benefit from people staying at a holiday let far more than if it was to remain a public house.  

Lastly, it has been proven that there is an insufficient population to maintain the viability of remaining a public house of that size. 

Mrs Jennie Black (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Thu 25 Feb 2021 

It was a great village pub and have had so many great evenings and lovely meals with friends. We don't have another pub like that it should 4remain a pub 

Mrs Laura Navrady _Pitcher (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Wed 24 Feb 2021 

Upwell, why don't you get the visitors money working for local people. When groups book do they need a chef for a special meal, a bouquet of flowers, a birthday cake, taxi service, babysitter, craft afternoon. Use local businesses, maybe linked in with the initial booking form. Be proactive people. 

Miss Leearna Roberts (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Wed 24 Feb 2021 

I think this is a great idea to change it to a holiday let! Especially given the circumstances this year has faced us with, it would be greater to generate tourism in their area and give people the opportunity to have family to book in and stay nearby! 

Miss Leearna Roberts (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Wed 24 Feb 2021 

Mrs Lorraine Whittaker (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Wed 24 Feb 2021 

Would be something different for the village 

Ms Srivally Dorikan (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Wed 24 Feb 2021 

 
Opposing the change of use for The Five Bells, Upwell (The Bells) 

I will start by telling my own story. I came from India to the Five Bells in 2012 after achieving a Master of Business Administration in Human Resource Management, University of Wales Trinity Saint David in 2011.  

I acted as Payroll & HR Executive for the company that used to run The Bells and several other pubs in the area.  

I took over as care-taker landlady when the pub was threatened with closure in 2014, having been asked to do so by people in the local community, and ran it at a reasonable profit. 

I stayed in the role until the new owners 'saved The Bells for the village' in 2015 and closed it for refurbishment and then re-opened it in 2018.  

If it wasn't for the pub, I would have left this village. The Bells was the first pub I had ever encountered. Indian culture does not have pubs and especially not for women.  

I discovered that the pub gave me the freedom to socialise and make friends and help me to learn about English culture and I think this is a very strong reason why the use of the premises should not be changed. 
 
I have learned that The Bells was traditionally an inn (a public house which provides food and drink and - especially for people travelling through and to the area - accommodation) and that inns have played an important part in English culture and infrastructure. Your Geoffrey Chaucer (14th Century) even mentions them in his Canterbury Tales as does William Shakespeare (16th Century) some of his plays. 
The Coronavirus has proved how being able to socialise is so vital for good mental health for human beings.  

The Bells being shut since March 2020 has made people realise what an important role it plays in rural villages like Upwell.  

The village pub is the heart of the community with a massive advantage in that people can turn up, walk in and socialise as their doors are usually open seven days a week and it is not necessary to be a member. Covid19 has also meant that quite a few people are moving from cities to rural villages and more homes are needed and are being built locally. 

 If the Bells is shut, I am afraid the real spirit of community will be lost and people will live more in isolation as they do in large towns and cities like London where they often steer clear of neighbours and local activities. 
 

The Bells is also a multifunctional asset for the community and has the capability to accommodate families with children, men and women, couples and single guests of all generations. 

As a landlady, I realised that The Bells also offers several things which village halls and other community buildings do not provide.  

The Bells has the capacity to organise small functions or bigger receptions on site. For example, a small birthday party or wake for around twenty-five people - a village hall is too big and caterers and other staff and services need to be hired - more work for the hirer and often at a huge cost. At the Bells only a phone call to book a date and reserve a table is needed - much easier! 
 

As I have already said, The Bells caters for all generations. We used to have the older generation pop in and have coffee/beer and light snacks as they then don't have to be alone or worry about cooking and they can relax and socialise.  

Workers can finish their day's work and walk into the pub, have a drink, socialise and relax before going home to spend time with family - this helps keep a balanced mental health for not only the worker but for the entire family.  

The younger generation members, especially as the village has few other opportunities for socialising, find The Bells is important for them to meet and learn about other people's ways of life, careers and interests and also for young people. 

The Bells can provide a start in their career whether it is as bar staff, sous-chef, pot-washer etc - this helps them to gain experience and confidence towards eventually 'flying the nest'. 
 

There are many more examples of how The Bells was used by the community. The WI members came to meet on weekdays - wonderful for bringing women together from all generations and excellent business for the pub providing drinks and food.  

The Running Club women used the premises for their meetings and after-running drinks - they could just walk in wearing their running gear no need to 'dress-up'.  

Congregation members from the next-door St Peter's Church would pop in and have tea, coffee or breakfast before going to the church and often pop back again for an after-service drink. 

They used to also have weekly meetings in the pub as the church used to be so cold - especially in winter. The bell-ringers also used to pop in for a drink and chat after their practise.  

The local football club used the premises to socialise after matches or training. On quiet days, the restaurant was used by local bands and musicians to practise and Open Mic' Nights were extremely popular and brought in amateur and professional musicians along with their families and others keen to be entertained.  

As the Bells sits right alongside the Well Creek where there is a large mooring point, and especially during the holiday season, people on narrow boats used the pub for meals and sometimes for accommodation if they were having difficulties with the boat! They always said that The Bells was what a wonderful example of a traditional village inn. 
 
I know this is a long letter but I feel so very strongly about the need to save The Five Bells Inn as it has been a valuable asset to the community for so many years and there is still a big and important role for it to play. 
 
 

Mr Max Thomas (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

I think it will be in better use as it doesn't get used a lot as a pub and will bring more people from out of the area to upwell 

Mr Lee Salisbury (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

I am supporting the pub to become a holiday let due to anti-social behaviour and drug related issues around the pub 
 

Mr Steven Bays (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

It's an interesting and enterprising venture and why not if there wasn't enough local support as a pub - too many failing pubs close and never reopen- at least this way the pub will be maintained rather than turn into a derelict eyesore- there would then be complaints about that too ! 

Miss Emma Johnston (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

I have felt the need to comment and support this case as i am a regular visitor to the area and often attend this location for a night out. Although I have enjoyed my experiences, on numerous occasions i have noticed anti-social behaviour and drug use. Which i feel is an issue that needs to be addressed and the planning proposal suggested aims to do just that. The five bells deserve a chance to be part of the community in the correct manner. 

Mr Patrick Henson (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

Miss Sophia Ford (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

Great idea if I'm honest, it was barely used 

Mr Marti Pentney (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

Lack of use in the week, the building should be put to good use 
 

Miss Natasha Fuller (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

I think it's a good idea 

Miss Sally Tyr (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

Give more tourism to the area. 
Will reduce anti-social behaviour 

Miss Jemma Johnson (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

It brings tourists to the village to use local butchers and shops 

Mr Paul Harper (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

Why not? Pubs are not used anymore. 
Drug and antisocial behaviour 
Ideal venue 
The accommodation will used 
Employment 
It will only become derelict and an eyesore if something doesn't change 

Mr Thomas Whitby (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

I am supporting the pub to become a holiday let due to the anti-social behaviour on weekends, many times I have seen police activity in and around the pub 

Mr Kane Davies (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

it's a great idea to change the pub to a holiday let!!! it will have a massive positive impact on the local area. GREAT IDEA!!! 

Mr Kieron Parnell (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

More visitation and tourism from outer villages, towns and city's 

Mr Nick Ward (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

I am supporting this to become a holiday let due to seeing first hand antisocial behaviour when walking my dog in the evening 

Mrs Tracy Harper (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

I completely support this idea. 
My reasons: 
 
1. Preserving local history and revenue for the village 
2. A perfect venue for friends and family to spend time together at reasonable prices 
3. Changing the way people socialise without anti-social behaviour 
4. Less hassle with drugs 
5. Unfortunately too many of our local pubs are closing, we need to change with the times to preserve the buildings 
6. Local employment 
7. Ideal venue for locals to hire 
8. Sad to see the pub empty in the week 

Miss Mallory Matthew (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

the pub being a holiday let is a great idea, looks amazing and will bring more people from out of area. A lot of anti-social behaviour and drug related issues have previously been reported as a pub so changing it to a holiday let will have a massive positive effect for visitors and locals! 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

the pub being a holiday let is a great idea, looks amazing and will bring more people from out of area. A lot of anti-social behaviour and drug related issues have previously been reported as a pub so changing to a holiday let will have a massive positive effect for visitors and locals! 

Mr Jordan Towell (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

I feel this is a great idea and gives a unique style of holiday. There are not many of these around and would be ideal for people with big families. The pub hasn't been used for a while and with its location I could bring tourists to local attractions. 

Mr Lewis Hilliard (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

Hello I support the motion to change the use to a holiday let as there always seem to be a bad crowd in there causing trouble and a high amount of drug use! 

Miss Rebecca Hunt (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

Great idea. Would definitely let something like this with a group of friends. 

Mr Jack Summerlin (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

I am originally from the area and we regularly visit and friends but have recently had to avoid the pub for antisocial behaviour on the premises. 

 I therefore think this would be a good move for the local area and due to the previous; drug abuse, fighting and general bad behaviour witnessed here, it would offer the locals a relaxed, safe place to enjoy their evenings and weekends. Overall, I really think this is a wise thing to happen. 

Mrs Katia Luff (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

Covid customers changing way of socialising 

Miss Emma Hudson (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

Totally agree with this application due to obvious drug use at weekends and fighting 

Mr Ross Whitby (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

The pub really isn't busy Monday to Thursday and it's a complete waste of space, this is a perfect opportunity to make use of the area, and a great idea. 
Ross 

Mr Darren Rayner (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

I fully support this application due to the downturn in use during the week and the trouble that was caused during weekends. 

Mr Jeff Hoyle (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 

Dear Sir, 
On behalf of the West Norfolk branch of CAMRA, I would like to object to the change of use of the Five Bells.  


More than ever, a village pub is a vital resource for the community and losing the Five Bells would be a big loss to a growing village such as Upwell. 

 
The comments that have been passed on to me as a representative of the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale0) branch which covers Upwell indicate that there is strong support for the pub and that a well-run and welcoming establishment could be a commercial success. I would urge that reference is made to the CAMRA pub viability test before coming to a decision. This can be found at PUBLIC  

HOUSE VIABILITY TEST (protectpubs.org.uk) 
There are many local examples of seemingly unviable pubs in the area becoming very successful under a new management. These include the Kings Arms at Shouldham as a prime example.  

The increasing strength of support for local pubs is demonstrated by the number of community buyouts in the area. Beeston Ploughshare opened recently and the Swan at Gressenhall and the Locks at Geldeston have both been purchased by community groups with the Blue Bell at Stoke Ferry currently under offer. 
 

I would also wonder about the wisdom of offering a property in such a location for the unsupervised rent to groups of up to 20 people. Surely the needs of accommodation could be better served by a bed and breakfast type establishment or a small hotel, a role the Five Bells is ideally placed to perform.  

This would also have the advantage of increased income with the bar and food takings being added to the accommodation income. 
 

A glance through the comments already filed shows that I am far from being alone in opposing the scheme, and I hope that some solution can be found which serves the needs of the local people for a pub while producing a return on the investment of the owners.  

Turning it into an unsupervised rental property will not achieve this objective. 
Jeff Hoyle (West Norfolk CAMRA) 
 

Miss Lindsay Price (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 23 Feb 2021 


Miss Lyndsey Churchyard (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Mon 22 Feb 2021 


Mr John Diffey (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Mon 22 Feb 2021 

This pub has been a viable local asset for years and years with a good trade and good reputation if it has not been making decent money recently this is due to lack of decent management and not a lack of local interest in the local amenity.  

I am led to believe that when the pub was last up for sale villagers began to think about getting it protected as a local asset but ceased with the application when the current owners purchased it and said they would keep it as such.  

I'm sure interested residents would like to reinitiate the process of getting it protected now this planning application has been released. 

Miss Margaret Burton (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Mon 22 Feb 2021 

As a pub it was the heart of the village and was also much appreciated by the many boats using the creek. As a local I strongly appeal against our wonderful amenity being changed into an Airbnb 

Mrs Abi Day (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Mon 22 Feb 2021 

The Pub needed to be run better, allowing customers to bring their dogs to the pub, they are part of the family. Less staff, better food. 
To take the only pub serving food out of the village would be a bad decision. It's the hub of the village 

Mrs Jill Drewery (Supports) 

Comment submitted date: Fri 19 Feb 2021 

It's great for the pub to remain & good luck to the owners for trying to make a success of it. 

Mrs Emma Culley (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Fri 19 Feb 2021 

The loss of a local pub will be very much missed within the community.  

Whilst I realise COVID has had an impact on this and many other businesses I do not feel that as a village we should lose our village pub. If this is a concern, why not have the option of a community pub. 

Mrs Elsbeth Brooks (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Fri 19 Feb 2021 

The village needs this community meeting point, and the chance for a drink and eat together, as we can again. 

Mr Jeremy Teague (Objects

Comment submitted date: Thu 18 Feb 2021 

The Bells has played a major role in the life of Upwell for a long time.  

If the current owners are incapable of running it profitably then they should sell it on at the same knockdown price, plus the cost of the improvements that they have made, and take credit for saving a vital village icon.  

The villages are expanding rapidly and properly managed the pub could be a valuable resource, attracting tourism. As an Inn it would also be able to provide B&B accommodation! 

Mrs Gayle Teague (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Thu 18 Feb 2021 

The 5 Bells is a central community resource for Upwell. As a pub/upscale dining-venue it supplied the village of Upwell with a central entertainment venue, and with its position on the Creek would attract passing boaters and drivers to stop and possibly "discover" some of the unique character and history of the prettiest village in the Fens. 

Mr Peter Brooks (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Thu 18 Feb 2021 

Upwell desperately needs this centre for community, a drink and food. 
The inn has been very well renovated. 
 
I understand that it was sold at a very low price to be maintained as an inn and local facility. It seems as if a profit is being sought and the local facility is being removed. 
 
I strongly believe that the Five Bells needs to maintained as an inn. 

Mr Alan Davis (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Wed 17 Feb 2021 

The main reason I moved to the village many years ago was the village charm and local pub. This is the heart of the village and over the past year or more the village has lost its beat, there is very little left in the village to sustain a local community and the pub has serviced the village for decades.  

The pub is a viable business with a large restaurant, two bars, rooms all upgraded good kitchen facilities and garden and private car park - with good management and commitment as previous tenants have shown it can be a thriving public house.  

There is very little residential impacts so noise is not an issue. The food, restaurants and accommodation are very well laid out and sustainable. With many houses being added to the village and the population growing in outwell, 3 holes and Upwell this is a pub where many would travel to get too.  

So, I do not see how it is not a viable village restaurant and pub to serve the village and surrounding areas- no other pub within the locality can offer the standard of accommodation, food and hospitality. It is a great loss to the village community to lose the 5 bells pub and restaurant. 

Mr Martin Greaves (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Wed 17 Feb 2021 

The loss of this very popular pub would be a travesty. The village of Upwell is expanding with more families moving to the area.  

There are pubs in other fenland villages that make a successful living offering the same facilities as the Five Bells had. If other businesses can make a profit, then surely this one can. If the current owners believe their investment has failed, they should be asked why they have not put it up for sale.  

The Parish Council can apply for an Asset of Community Value under the Localism Act of 2011, this would help to safeguard the pub from development and create other opportunities for the community if the owners wish to sell. It is a prominent building in a prominent position that should play a prominent part in the future of the village. 

Mrs Suzanne LIPINSKI (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

What ever happened to the place being for the local people... 

Mrs Val Davey (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

We do not need a b&b in this village. We need a pub which serves meals for the locals. We place was changed last year and advertised as renting rooms or whole venue.  

This building needs to be used for the benefit of the villagers not outsiders More and more properties are being built so we need amenities for the people. 

Mr Colin Dackombe (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

Please do not approve the change of use. The village NEEDS its Pub, a place to wine, dine and socialise. 
It is a vital and attractive amenity for the people of the village and helps make Upwell a destination for visitors too! 
 

Ms Jennie Mercer (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

The 5 Bells was an enjoyable venue for family night out and meeting with the local members of the community. 
It was always busy. This will be a great loss to the village if it is allowed to become a holiday let. 

Miss Natasha Wright (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

We need our good local pub back! It is pointless having a B&B in such a small village with hardly anything around. The locals loved this pub for its events, food and drink. 

Mrs Julie Wright (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

We, like so many others, were very upset when The Five Bells closed its doors as a pub restaurant.  

We used the place frequently to eat out and have missed it greatly. If we lose this place completely, we will be losing a massive part of community for both Upwell and Outwell.  

The area does not need holiday lets. There is already accommodation available locally. Why would anyone want to give the area more of what we don't need and take away the one thing that we do need and do utilise on a regular basis?  

It makes no sense at all. It was always busy when we went there and we always had to book in advance to eat as it got booked up ahead. We need to save this pub restaurant now before it is too late. 

Mrs Helen Fox-Noble (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

This public house has been the heart of Upwell Village. 
It had been closed a long time before it's renovation and it was a long awaited and welcomed reopening. 

It gave people a place to socialise and this is needed even more for wellbeing during these turbulent times. To lose another place for the people of Upwell and surrounding area would be a travesty. It was good for the village. 

Miss Kathy Barns (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

Not happy. Starts with a holiday let. Ends up a full time let for undesirable people. Please keep our country pub. 

Mrs Amanda Taylor (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

It would be better as a pub/ restaurant/Hotel somewhere for the local community to go to 

Mr Tom Walczak (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

This pub is at the heart of the village in close proximity to the church, village hall and playing fields, shop, cafe & creek. The proposal would remove a valued amenity from the people of the village and offer no tangible benefit.  

As it already offered rooms the tourism was already covered. This application should not be granted and in the right hands the Five Bells would be the jewel in the crown of the village. 

Mr David Johnson (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

The proposed change of use would have a detrimental effect on the character of the local area, and permanently remove a key asset from the village. 

Mr Allen Brown (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

This pub was always busy and a very successful business until the new people took it on. 

Mrs Erica Estall (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

I can't believe this pub was running at a loss as every time we went there for a drink or meal (inc Sunday lunchtimes) it was always well populated.  

The main objection to its closure and change of use is that as a pub it serves a twin-village community and therefore should remain as such. Any other usage serves no benefit to the community at large. 

Mrs Pauline Singfield (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

The Five Bells was a great community resource for meeting friends, eating out, quizzes, drinks and socialising that was easy to reach 
I will be very disappointed if it isn't reopened as a public house 

Mr Stevie Boughen (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

This was the only place locally offering good food and drink and should stay as such. Another shop and more houses being built and the gp surgery and pharmacy expanding.... makes no sense for this to be taken away as a pub when there were so many locals enjoying it pre covid and wanting it to remain a hub of the village. 

Miss Anna Clingo (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

When this reopened as a pub there wasn't a time when I visited that it wasn't busy. It was such a delight to the local community to have somewhere to eat, drink and socialise with plenty of space inside and out.  

It would be such a shame to have this lost forever when there has been so much interest in keeping its purpose as it was. 

Dr Emma Mercer (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

This pub is vital to the community and can definitely be profitable when well managed. There is very little other competition, with other pubs being at least a 15-minute walk away, and not offering the same in the way of dining amenities.  

This has the potential to be the heart and soul of the village, and should be prioritised as such. 

Mr Ashley Inwood (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

This is one of the largest amenities in an ever-growing village linked to another large village, outwell. Even have a new supermarket being built.  

When the present owners ran it as a pub, restaurant and b and b, it wasn’t terribly managed. 

Now we know why, to show a loss and obtain a change of use. It could be successfully running as it is, and there are interested parties willing to purchase it and run it as a village amenity.  

If the present owners feel they can't run it profitably, then sell it to someone that can and know how to. Rather than a holiday let, might as well knock it down and build houses! 

Mr Martin Slough (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

The pub has always been a vital amenity in this village and always appeared busy, when it was open. Every attempt should be made to allow this pub to remain a pub and restaurant and continue to be the asset it has previously been to the village. 

Mrs Sharon Smith (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

I feel that it should remain a public that serves food as it is one of the few places to have a family meal out. There is outside space suitable for families.  

There is nowhere else in the village suitable for families to have a drink and good. You also have the passing canal traffic that would also benefit as the moorings are outside the five bells 

Mr Jason Smith (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

It should remain a pub as this enhances the appeal of the village 

Mrs Paula Redman (Objects) 

Comment submitted date: Tue 16 Feb 2021 

Save it for our one and only amenity 


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