Two Norwich pubs set to disappear after conversions agreed

The Dyers Arms in Norwich

Permission has been granted for The Dyers Arms to become a health and wellbeing clinic. - Credit: David Hannant

Two more Norwich pubs look set to be lost, after permission was granted for one to make way for homes and another to become a health and wellbeing clinic.

The pubs - The Dyers Arms in Lawson Road and William IV in Quebec Road - have been serving drinkers since the 19th century.

But planners at Norwich City Council have granted permission for The Dyers Arms to become a health and wellbeing clinic and for the William IV to be converted and extended into eight apartments.

Council officers used delegated powers to approve the changes, despite objections from the Norwich branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

The William IV pub, Quebec Road, Norwich, which is bidding to extend its opening hours. Picture: Ant

The William IV pub in Quebec Road looks set to be turned into housing. - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

Applicant Nick Groves, of Peachtree Services Limited, which has owned the William IV since 2005, was given the green light to convert the building into eight flats - four one bedroom flats, two with two bedrooms and two with three bedrooms.

In documents lodged with the city council, the applicant stated low trade, high running costs and competition from neighbouring pubs meant "it is simply not financially viable".

The Norwich branch of CAMRA had objected, saying it had been a pub for more than 150 years and was "more than a drinking establishment", with B&B accommodation, a restaurant and a function room.

The former Ketts Tavern which could be turned into housing. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Ketts Tavern is one of the Norwich pubs which has closed. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

The said several local pubs had recently been lost, including The Quebec, Bakers Arms, Ketts Tavern and Lord Raglan.

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But city council policy permits the loss of pubs where there is an alternative within 800 metres of walking distance - and in the case of the William IV, the Jubilee and Lollard's Pit were among six pubs which ticked that box.

Lollards Pit pub. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Lollards Pit pub. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

And applicant Treat Norwich has been granted permission to turn The Dyers Arms, which has been a pub since 1858, into a health and wellbeing clinic.

The Dyers Arms in Lawson Road, Norwich, before the closure of the pub.

The Dyers Arms pub in Lawson Road. - Credit: Archant

Treat Norwich, which already offers complementary therapies at Capitol House in Heigham Street intends to turn the street corner pub into a centre for health treatments including acupuncture, osteopathy, reflexology, health massages and yoga and pilates.

In the planning submission, they stated: “The property is ideally suited to this conversion as it has a number of differing sized rooms and requires little internal and no external alteration.”

CAMRA had also objected to that change, saying it would "lead to the loss of one of the few remaining typical suburban corner pubs aimed more for the local community."

Richard Dixon, pubs protection officer for the Norwich CAMRA branch, said: "The pub can provide so much more than just a traditional drinking establishment. Pubs are a hub for the community where people can meet and socialise with others."

But, as with the William IV, officers at City Hall said the change was not against the council's policy.

Planning officer Lara Emerson said: "It is noted that there are a number of other popular public houses in proximity to the site and the applicant has prepared a convincing case on the abundance of existing provision in the area."

She also said the creation of a health facility would be beneficial for the local area and the city.

CAMRA's Mr Dixon said: "We are always disappointed when any pub closes, but we didn't have much of a chance and, in the case of The Dyers Arms, the upside is that it will still be used by the community.

"But it was one of the few remaining suburban corner pubs which was left in the city.

"I just hope that some reminder that it was a pub could be retained, such as the embossed pub sign in the corner, so people can realise what used to be there."

When previous plans to turn the pub into housing was scrapped, in 2019, landlady Lana Swift had said she hoped it would mean she could add to her 18 years at the venue.

Former landlady The Dyers Arms in Norwich Lana Swift.

Lana Swift, behind the bar at The Dyers Arms. - Credit: Archant

Mr Dixon said the council's policy of permitting pubs to be converted if others are within 800 metres walking distance made it difficult to make the case for them to be retained.

But he said Norwich still had a number of good pubs and welcomed plans to turn a former shop in Magdalen Street into the Malt and Mardle micropub.

Three friends open Malt & Mardle micropub

Elliot Dransfield, Emily Bridges and Johnny Durant who are opening the Malt and Mardle micropub. - Credit: Supplied

Friends Elliot Dransfield, Johnny Durant and Emily Bridges were granted planning permission for the change last month.