Fresh bid to convert empty city pub into housing

The Windmill pub in Knox Road, which could be turned into a house

The Windmill pub in Knox Road, which could be turned into a house - Credit: Jan Heywood

A planning hokey cokey around a disused city pub has continued after new plans to convert it into a home were lodged.

In February, Norwich City Council received a bid to convert the former Windmill pub in Knox Road into a residential property. However a few weeks later the application was withdrawn.

It came after a deadline for interested community parties to take the pub on expired in October 2017, with the boozer previously having received designated status as an asset of community value.

The February bid was objected to by the Campaign for Real Ale, but little explanation was given some six weeks later when the plans were withdrawn in March.

But papers submitted with the new application confirm it was withdrawn after city planners requested further justification for the loss of the site as a pub.

Felix and Lisa Snell, who have taken on the Windmill on Knox Road.Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

A second bid to convert the Windmill into a house has now been lodged - Credit: Archant Norfolk

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The papers argue that any party aiming to take the site on as a pub would need an investment of almost £204,000 to make it possible, with a wide range of repairs needed to bring it into a usable condition.

These include installing new fire alarms, replacing the toilet facilities and broken parts of the bar and doing a complete refit of the kitchen - to the combined tune of £203,800.

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The freehold of the property was marketed by DPS Estates at £375,000 between April 1 and September 7 this year, but did not sell, with its sole enquiry coming from a London-based pub investor which decided the area was not commercially viable.

A statement prepared for applicants Mr and Mrs Moore by One Planning Ltd argues the pub had ceased to be viable before the pandemic, and that Covid-19 had further exacerbated its chance of success.

Richard Dixon, pubs protection manager of the Norwich branch of CAMRA

Richard Dixon, pubs protection manager of the Norwich branch of CAMRA - Credit: Richard Dixon

But Richard Dixon, pubs protection officer for the Campaign for Real Ale said these arguments were being brought to the table as "excuses" and that the right investor could make a go of it as a pub.

He said: "We used to use the Windmill as part of our CAMRA nights and it did always used to be a popular and well-used pub. But you can run down a pub if you want to run it down.

"It would be great if somebody did have a go of it and we will be objecting to the plan."

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