Decision due on new Norwich bar

An historic city centre building could become the newest bar to open in Norwich: but civic watchdogs are hoping the plans are blocked so it stops late-night drinking from creeping towards the cathedral.

Plans have been lodged with Norwich City Council to turn former offices in Upper King Street, which have been empty for two years, into a bar.

Lyng-based Paul Alcock has submitted the scheme to transform the three-storey Grade II listed building, which is on the buildings at risk register, into a drinking establishment, complete with kitchens.

The ground floor of the building, which dates from the early 19th century, was last occupied by Abbotts Estate Agents in 2008, while solicitors Hansells and Overburys left the upper floors the year before that. It was bought as a freehold property in autumn last year.

However, the bar plan is being opposed by the Norwich Society and the Friends of Elm Hill, who are both concerned that drinking establishments are moving from Prince of Wales Road into the Tombland area near the cathedral.

Peter Bentley, who is chairman of both organisations, said in his submission from the Friends of Elm Hill, that: 'Queen Street, which adjoins Upper King Street, has four large late night drinking establishments that have had a detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the area. There is now no retail offering in the street. 'The detritus from late night drinking has a negative impact on the visitor route from the castle to the cathedral.' He said the council's proposed local development framework stated the area around the cathedral was no longer designated for late-night activity.

But planning officer Mark Brown says in the report: 'Both the Norwich Society and the Friends of Elm Hill have raised concern over the proposals in this location, suggesting that they would lead to an expansion of the late night activity area.

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'This is not the case. The site is located within the late-night activity area as defined within the local plan.'

He said although future policies might take Tombland and Upper King Street out of the late night activity zone, those moves were not at a stage where any weight could be given in deciding this application.

Council officers are recommending that members of the planning applications committee gives approval to the scheme when they meet on Thursday (May 19).

Mr Brown concludes: 'Given the state of the building, its unsuitability for modern flexible office space and the supply of other better quality office space within the city centre, the loss of office use is considered to be acceptable.'

• Are you fighting a planning application where you live? Call Evening News reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email