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Council statement on North Walsham Wetherspoon’s plan

Following recent questions and speculation about the status of the proposed plan for a JD Wetherspoon to be developed in North Walsham, North Norfolk District Council has issued a statement, which sets out the current position.

JD Wetherspoon approached the district council in 2014 requesting an unencumbered freehold sale on the New Road site, meaning all occupants would need to move out.

This would then allow the company to develop a pub/restaurant on the site, which the district council believed would strengthen the town centre through generating additional footfall and visitors.

These moves were successfully facilitated by the district council and, by September 2016, the building was empty of occupants and subsequently secured. A contract for JD Wetherspoon to pursue the purchase of the site was agreed in 2016.

A right of way/footpath challenge was raised in 2017 and resolved, meaning this challenge is no longer a legal impediment to the sale of the site pending development.

The council believes there are no legal impediments whatsoever to progressing with the sale of the site, or any other impediments for JD Wetherspoon to submit or discuss with planners detailed plans of their proposals – which has not been the case to date.

The council has done everything in its power to make the site available to JD Wetherspoon in good order and in a timely fashion and wants to ensure a certain, economically viable future for the site to the benefit of North Walsham.

The council is currently waiting for JD Wetherspoon to confirm its intentions for the property.

Eric Seward, deputy leader of North Norfolk District Council and ward member for North Walsham (North), said: “This is a run-down prime town centre site. It is more than four years since JD Wetherspoon first expressed an interest in coming to North Walsham. The district council has done its best to accommodate JD Wetherspoon. However, in the last few weeks there have been conflicting messages from the company over whether they wish to open new pubs in Norfolk.

“The company chairman says no new pubs will be opened in Norfolk, but other company representatives give an opposite message. This saga has to come to an end. Are JD Wetherspoon going to open a new pub in North Walsham or are they no longer interested?”

It’s all quiet for North Walsham pub plans

Ssshh, there are plans for a new micropub in North Walsham.

The concept for the former taxi office at 2 Market Place shuns all forms of electronic entertainment with the idea to “keep it simple”.

The application to North Norfolk District Council is for a change of use of the empty building to drinking establishment.

The micropub will sell cask ale on gravity from the barrel, also real cider and limited bottled beer, mostly speciality foreign beers, plus serve traditional pub snacks.

There will be no TV, fruit machines or recorded music and as such little noise, other than conversation. The plan is to steer clear of lager and alcopops and also not brew beer on site.

The application sates: “The Market Street Tap will be a throwback to the traditional ale houses of the mid-19th century. It will be a single room micropub with limited space (room for approximately 25-30 people) and limited opening hours.”

The business will be based primarily on three core themes – local cask ales served straight from cask to glass; traditional snacks such as pork pies, scotch eggs, crisps and cheeses sourced from local artisan businesses; conversation between locals and tourists alike.

It is not intended that there will be any structural changes to the property, inside or out, other than hanging pictures on the walls

The application says: “A micropub is a small freehouse which listens to its customers, mainly serves cask ales and promotes the art of conversation.”

The first micropub opened in 2005 in Herne Bay, Kent and since then the concept has gone from strength to strength.

There are currently more than 280 micropubs listed with the Micropub Association and news of further openings continues to buck the recent trend of pub closures.

SOS bus drivers wanted

The SOS Bus, which provides a safe haven for anyone out in Norwich’s club land at weekends, is on the lookout for volunteer drivers, to be part of the team with driving the SOS Bus and support vehicles.

Operating on a Friday and Saturday evening between 9pm and 3am, anyone interested in getting involved as a volunteer driver for the SOS Bus needs to 25 or over, with two years’ driving experience and ideally have a full clean driving licence.

The SOS Bus is also looking for a volunteer trainer, ideally someone with qualifications and experience in driving buses or HGV sized vehicles who would be willing to assist with training up  a team to drive.

Jenny Smith, SOS bus volunteer co-ordinator, said:  “Without volunteers the SOS Bus wouldn’t be able to provide such a vital resource to the bustling nightlife in Norwich city centre.

Anyone who volunteers for the bus feels that they are doing something of value to help the local community and make Norwich a safer place for those out and about in the city during Friday and Saturday nights.  The organisers would love to hear from anyone who feels they could help in either role to just give me a call on 01603 252116 or email at sosbus@opennorwich.org.uk.

The SOS Bus is a multi-agency initiative, managed by OPEN Youth Trust, to meet the needs of any person in Norwich’s club land at night. Providing a safe haven for the general public, it is a first point of contact for those whose well-being is threatened by inability to get home, illness or injury, emotional distress or other vulnerability.

For further information about the SOS Bus and to find out how to support the charity, call 01603 252112 or visit www.sosbus.co.uk  To make a donation to the SOS Bus please visit www.sosbus.co.uk/donate.

SOS Bus new copy