Plans to save Norwich pub

Real-ale lovers in Norwich are urging the council to reject plans to turn the historic Rosary pub into flats.

The plans for a change of use to allow three flats on the ground floor at The Rosary Tavern in Thorpe Hamlet were submitted last month by owner David Smith, from Coltishall.

The 19th-century pub is featured in the current edition of Camra's Good Beer Guide and has been popular with Canaries fans on their way to Carrow Road on match days. Its former owner, Enterprise Inns, however, sold it because it was unable to survive the tough economic conditions.

Mike Spivey, pubs preservation officer with the Norwich and Norfolk branch of Camra (Campaign for Real Ale), has written to Norwich City Council objecting to the plans. He said it was on the council's list of historic pubs safeguarded under the City of Norwich Replacement Plan Policy, which meant applicants requesting a change of use had to show it was no longer viable.

Mr Spivey said: 'We know that more than one person, including an experienced licensee, were prepared to buy the freehold with a view to running it as a freehouse. The licensee offered �20,000 more than it was sold for.

'These potential buyers are still confident that, free of a tie and management controls, the Rosary can be a successful pub again with only a little investment.

'Its problems are largely due to its being tied and having to pay the consequently much higher prices charged for a limited choice of products.

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'By refusing this application and thereby encouraging the possibility of an experienced licensee buying the freehold, investing in it and reopening it as a specialist real-ale outlet, the council would be encouraging travellers to visit this part of the city and assist the micro-brewers of the area by giving them a further outlet from which to sell their products.'

He said the pub also provided employment for people in that part of the city.

The Evening News' Love Your Local Campaign aims to get punters back into pubs that are struggling to survive in the recession.

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Have you got a pubs story? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email