Norwich’s first backpackers’ hostel could open by Christmas

The people behind Norwich's first backpackers' hostel said that it could be open by the end of the year – after plans to alter and extend the former Ferry Boat pub in King Street, were lodged with council officials.

The pub, near the Riverside complex, has been sitting empty for more than four years, but it has already been re-roofed and Jason Borthwick, who owns it with his father Alister Borthwick, said that, if plans were approved, work to create a 150-200 bed hostel on the site could start almost immediately.

It would be 'awesome' to open the hostel by Christmas, he said, but a likelier date would be April 2012.

He said: 'Our previous planning application was withdrawn due to lack of time to get it ready.

'We hope that this new application will go to the planning committee with the planning officers' support some time later this month.

'We hope the whole place could be up and running well before the 2012 Olympics, and it would be awesome if we could open for Christmas.

'However, we will have to wait and see what happens with planning. Our first goal is hopefully to be open to host the European Hostel Conference in April 2012, which would be great for Norwich, as hostel owners from around Europe would visit Norwich and see what amazing facilities we have.'

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The Borthwicks, who created the Deepdale Farm campsite on the North Norfolk Coast, plan to turn the building into an eco-friendly hostel with cycle and canoe hire and a cafe and tourist information centre.

Jason Borthwick said the main pub would not change much at all. The downstairs front bar would become a real ale appreciation shop/bar, selling off sales with a few beers on tap and the upstairs would remain a flat for tenants.

The boat house and music room on the site are dilapidated and falling down and will be replaced with a boat shed that will house accommodation, the cycle hire and canoe hire barn, plus the caf� by the river.

Mr Borthwick said a new warehouse style building, which will house most of the accommodation for the backpackers' hostel, would be built over the car park. There will be a mix of double, twin, triple, quad, family and dorm rooms, all offering ensuite shower rooms.

The old beer store by the car park will be recycled to build the new reception/visitor information centre that links the old pub building with the new hostel, while the old brick arch will be saved and form one of the new walls of the reception building.

Mr Borthwick said there will be a lot of glass in the reception building, so people would be able to stand on King Street and look down to the river.

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Are you about to transform a city building? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email