Former Ferry Boat pub and site sold in Norwich

As it once was - The Ferry Boat pub in King Street. Picture: James Bass

As it once was - The Ferry Boat pub in King Street. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2006

A prime riverside site in Norwich that includes the former Ferry Boat pub and was earmarked to house the city's first backpackers' hostel, could be turned into a residential development, after it was sold for more than £500,000.

The King Street site has full planning permission for a five-storey warehouse-style building over the existing car park, and a complete refurbishment of the existing pub and the boat house that runs down to the River Wensum.

The 0.44 acre site was marketed by Arnolds Keys, with a freehold guide price of £575,000.

Craig Knights, a partner with the firm, said the new owners, who did not wish to comment, were from out of the area, but had worked on developments in north Norfolk.

He said the site had been sold for an amount close to the guide price, and added: 'Although the new owners have not put in a formal planning application, they will probably be looking for other, denser uses for the site. It's not going to be a backpackers' hostel.

'However, I understand that the new owners could work something into the scheme along the lines of a local facility such as a café or restaurant.'

The Ferry Boat was one of the most popular rock music venues in Norwich before it closed in 2006, and the Grade II listed pub has been vacant ever since.

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Planning permission was granted in 2011 to build a 45-bedroom independent backpackers' hostel, a café overlooking the river, cycle & canoe hire barn, and a four-bedroom flat on the site.

Father and son Alister and Jason Borthwick, who created the award-winning Deepdale Farm campsite on the north Norfolk coast, hoped to open the hostel before the Olympics.

But the plans stalled and the Borthwicks decided to sell the site, rather than develop it themselves.

As reported, a campaign was launched at the end of last year on Facebook to buy and restore the former Ferry Boat and make it the main independent music venue in the eastern region.

The Ferry Boat dates from the 19th century, when it had various names including The Horse Packet, The Steam Barge and The Steam Packet. It became The Ferry Boat Inn in 1922, and remained as such until it finally closed.

Have you got plans to transform a building or part of Norwich? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email