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Former Norwich rock bar to be redeveloped

PUBLISHED: 11:55 14 August 2019 | UPDATED: 15:48 14 August 2019

Owl Sanctuary regulars pictured ahead of the pub's closure in 2016. Photo: SIMON FINLAY

Owl Sanctuary regulars pictured ahead of the pub's closure in 2016. Photo: SIMON FINLAY

The former home of a Norwich rock bar could be turned into apartments - three years after its owner said it would return as a pub.

The Owl Sanctuary on Cattle Market Street, which could be turned into flats. 
Photo: Simon FinlayThe Owl Sanctuary on Cattle Market Street, which could be turned into flats. Photo: Simon Finlay

The Owl Sanctuary, on Cattle Market Street, closed at the start of 2016 after the building was sold to property developer Richard Pratt.

It sparked a successful online campaign - signed by more than 2,300 people - to save the pub from development by making it an asset of community value.

Mr Pratt, who also owns the neighbouring Crystal House, had previously said he planned to turn the premises into a "mid-market" pub and restaurant.

But three years on and an application by the Richard Pratt Retirement Benefit Scheme is seeking permission to convert the property.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis giving Owl Sanctuary manager Dan Hawcroft his support to try and prevent the closure of the popular city centre pub in 2016. Photo:Steve AdamsNorwich South MP Clive Lewis giving Owl Sanctuary manager Dan Hawcroft his support to try and prevent the closure of the popular city centre pub in 2016. Photo:Steve Adams

Should it be approved, the pub will be turned into six one-bedroom apartments.

A three-storey building will also be created at the rear of the premises, made up of a one-bed apartment and a two-bed duplex.

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A planning application to Norwich City Council said: "All reasonable efforts have been made to preserve the facility, but it has been demonstrated that it would not be economically viable, feasible or practicable to retain the building or site for its existing use.

"Since its closure in March 2016 the owners are yet to source a tenant prepared to take on the extensive work required for the building to operate as a public house again."

The proposed development would see part of the existing pub building demolished and replaced with an extension.

The Owl Sanctuary dates back to 1833, when it was known as Shirehall Tavern.

According to the planning application, it was once popular with livestock dealers and farmers.

The pub's early name is said to come from the nearby shirehall, whose judges would often spend nights at the tavern's lodgings.

According to the Norfolk Pubs website, plans were submitted in 1989 to demolish the building and turn it into offices. However this was rejected in 1991.

In 1995 it reponed with an Australian theme, which included an internal mural of Sydney Harbour and a bright yellow exterior.

It then changed names several times over the following decade, becoming the Owl Sanctuary in 2014.

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