Hole to be made in listed building in bid to end grease woes

The Strangers Club in Elm Hill. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Strangers Club in Elm Hill. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

A private members club has been given the go-ahead to create a hole in a Grade II* listed building to stop a grease build-up from its kitchen which had prompted fire safety concerns.

The extraction system from the kitchen of the Strangers Club, which leases 22/24 Elm Hill from Norwich City Council, previously went to a narrow gap between the club and the building next door at 26/28.

But the system had led to deposits of grease building up on the side of 26/28, creating concerns from watchdogs that it could pose a fire risk.

A previous bid to alter the system was refused in April as councillors deemed it did not go far enough.

Grease has built up on the wall of 26 - 28 Elm Hill. Pic: Norwich Preservation Trust.

Grease has built up on the wall of 26 - 28 Elm Hill. Pic: Norwich Preservation Trust. - Credit: Norwich Preservation Trust

But the club lodged plans for a second solution, which were heard at the city council’s planning committee on Thursday and unanimously approved.

The new plans will see the existing system removed, the hole from it repaired and a new one created via a lean-to ‘boiler house’ extension. 

Councillor Judith Lubbock, speaking on behalf of the Norwich Preservation Trust, said the trust could not continue with major repair work at 26 to 30 Elm Hill until the work was completed.

City councillor Judith Lubbock in Eaton Park. Pic: Sonya Duncan.

City councillor Judith Lubbock in Eaton Park. Pic: Sonya Duncan. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

She called for the existing system to be removed before the new one could be installed. 

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But Mike Haslam, of the members club, said he thought that was “unreasonable”.

“We want to keep the kitchen running so we will introduce the new system and then immediately take out the existing one,” he said.

The preservation trust previously said there was a “substantial” fire risk from the grease, but planning officer David Parkin said the threat of fire was “exaggerated”.

Council officers say the hole for the current system appeared to have been created in 1965, and the system itself upgraded in 1996.

Mr Parkin said councillors' calls for a short time limit to be enforced for the work to be completed were not realistic.

In voting to approve the application, councillor Sandra Bogelein said the speed at which the club had returned with a second application showed it was keen to resolve the situation.

“Given that they’ve come back in a short time frame with an application I feel quite confident they really want to move forward with it,” she said.





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