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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?”

Making way for Wetherspoons in North Walsham

North Norfolk District Council is soon expected to be in a position to be able to offer J D Wetherspoons freehold vacant possession of the council offices in New Road, North Walsham.

The agreement to sell the listed property to the award-winning pub chain has been dependent on North Norfolk District Council finding alternative premises for North Walsham Town Council. NNDC also wanted to ensure it supported Citizen’s Advice Bureau and North Norfolk Community Transport in finding alternative premises.

This has now been achieved with the town council about to move into the Register Office in King’s Arms Street on a 10-year lease. In order to ensure these premises are fit for purpose for both the Town Council and registrars, NNDC is proposing to provide a kitchen and second toilet for the building.

The Citizens Advice Bureau will be moving to a unit in St Nicholas’s Precinct and North Norfolk Community Transport has already moved to the North Walsham Industrial Estate.

Tom FitzPatrick Leader of North Norfolk District Council said: “We are very pleased to be close to being able to offer freehold vacant possession allowing Wetherspoons to move forward with its proposals for a pub-restaurant in the town, subject to planning and licensing consents.

“Attracting new jobs and improving the facilities in North Walsham is a major priority for the district council.

“The process of identifying suitable new premises for the organisations working within the New Road building has taken more time than anticipated but we are pleased each now has a new home.”

It is expected the £1.6m investment proposals can now be progressed with the purchase of the New Road property by J D Wetherspoons and application for planning permission to convert the building into a pub.

Twon clerk Nick Clancy said: “We will be moving beginning on Tuesday, September 6, and possibly not completely vacating the New Road offices until the end of that week. The contact telephone number will be unchanged – 01692 404114 – as will the email address.

“You may be unable to contact us by phone on September 6, at least until we have the system running properly, but we intend to at least have a skeleton office up and running on the first day of the move. Please bear with us during this period; we will respond as soon as we are able to.”

 

Wetherspoons a step closer in North Walsham

An agreement is set to be reached which will enable North Walsham Town Council to move offices and clear the way for Wetherspoon’s to move into North Walsham.

North Norfolk District Council is expected to finalise a 10-year lease agreement for North Walsham registrar’s office in King’s Arms Street from Norfolk County Council within the next few weeks.

It is hoped that with the leasehold agreement finalised and minor building work to the King’s Arms Street offices completed that North Walsham Town Council will be able to move from the current New Road premises into the new buildings before the summer.

Councillor John Rest, Cabinet Member for Assets at North Norfolk District Council, said: “Attracting new jobs to North Walsham and improving the shopping and leisure facilities in the town is a priority for North Norfolk District Council. We want to ensure that wherever possible we attract additional investment to the area and improve the shops and town centre for residents and visitors.”

North Norfolk District Council has written to the town council to provide an update on the leasehold talks on King’s Arms Street and to set out how the district council’s property team could help the town council with the move.

The district council is currently in talks with North Norfolk Community Transport and Citizens Advice to identify alternative accommodation so that the New Road property can be empty in time for the proposed sale to J D Wetherspoon.