'Still on the cards' - Works on former city pub to begin next year

Richard Pratt, inset, says plans to convert the former Owl Sanctuary into flats will still go ahead

Richard Pratt, inset, says plans to convert the former Owl Sanctuary into flats will still go ahead - Credit: Archant

The developer behind plans to convert a former music lovers' pub into flats has vowed it will not be left as a blot on the city landscape.

It has been almost two years since permission was granted to convert the former Owl Sanctuary in Cattle Market Street into seven flats - and even longer since pints were last pulled there.

But the former pub remains boarded up.

The former Owl Sanctuary pub is now boarded up and vacant - but will be converted into flats next year

The former Owl Sanctuary pub is now boarded up and vacant - but will be converted into flats next year - Credit: Archant

However, Richard Pratt, the developer behind the scheme, has insisted the project is still very much on the cards and is hoping that construction work will begin around Easter 2022.

He said: "The reason the work has not started yet can be boiled down to one word: Covid.


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"When the pandemic hit it basically made the whole world grind to halt for us and I had to put all my focus on keeping people working for my company employed, which has been very difficult."

Richard Pratt, who owns Crystal House in Norwich as well as an engineering firm in North Walsham. Pi

Richard Pratt, who owns the former Owl Sanctuary in Cattle Market Street

Mr Pratt said that were it not for the pandemic, the project would likely have already been completed, however, it would not have been financially viable to start during it.

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He added: "We are hopeful that things will have settled down a bit by next year and we still very much planned to still go ahead - it is still on the cards.

"Big developers have been pushing to finish things but that just wasn't possible to us - it's tough to get the materials and the labour to do it and now isn't the right time to start construction projects."

Most recently known as the Owl Sanctuary, the pub closed its doors for the final time after being sold to Mr Pratt in January 2016, with its tenants relocating to Timber Hill.

Former Owl Sanctuary regulars protesting against its closure in 2016 PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Campaigners who fought to save the Owl Sanctuary after its closure in 2016 - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

It was listed as an asset of community value after its closure and Mr Pratt had intended to turn it into a "mid-market pub and restaurant", but this plan never materialised.

The building dates back to 1833 and was originally called the Shirehall Arms, but also spent many years as The Marquee, when it was a cornerstone of the city's rock music scene.

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