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Norwich pub auctioned off

PUBLISHED: 16:00 16 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:47 02 July 2010

The Magpie pub on Magpie road, Norwich, that has been closed for 22 months.

The Magpie pub on Magpie road, Norwich, that has been closed for 22 months.

An historic pub that has been empty and boarded-up since 2006 has been sold at auction for more than twice its guide price - but licensing chiefs said today they were not hailing it as a return to the good times.

An historic pub that has been empty and boarded-up since 2006 has been sold at auction for more than twice its guide price - but licensing chiefs said today they were not hailing it as a return to the good times.

The Norwich City Council-owned Magpie pub in the north of the city was sold by Auction House at Dunston Hall Hotel, near Norwich, yesterday.

The guide price was £60-£80,000, but it was snapped up for £165,000, auctioneer Bryan Baxter said.

“It went for an extremely high amount because there was more than one bidder,” he said.

The new owner wishes to remain anonymous, but she told Mr Baxter that she bought it because her great-aunt once ran it in the 1930s. The pub is protected - meaning it is unlikely the new owner will get the permission to use it for any other purpose.

Mr Baxter suggested that it proved there was still a market for vacant pubs, but Toby Middleton, vice-chairman of Norfolk and Norwich Licensed Victuallers' Association, said it was more likely a one-off.

He said: “I cannot see a trend there as I know of six pubs that have shut in the last two weeks. But I take my hat off to anyone who goes into the licensing trade today. The days when publicans could just open their doors and be a success are long gone. You have to be really dedicated today.”

The city council tried unsuccessfully to let the Magpie Road watering hole as a pub, and also investigated the possibility of converting it into affordable housing, before they sold it.

Under local planning policy, The Magpie is a protected pub so anybody interested in turning it into homes would have to put forward a fairly robust case to demonstrate that its commercial use is not a viable option, a council spokeswoman said.

As reported, neighbours previously called on council chiefs to take action at the eyesore building, which dates back to the 19th century and was previously known as the Weighing Machine and Weighing Chains.

The pub is of historic interest because sections of the city's medieval walls go down to its cellar.

The Evening News' Love Your Local Campaign aims to get punters back into pubs or risk them losing for good.

For more stories about the campaign visit www.eveningnews24.co.uk/loveyourlocal.

Have you got a pubs story for the Evening News campaign? Call David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.

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