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Norwich pub’s fate set to be decided

PUBLISHED: 15:30 18 April 2011 | UPDATED: 16:36 18 April 2011

The Rosary Tavern pub, Norwich.

The Rosary Tavern pub, Norwich.

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2009

The fate of another Norwich pub looks set to be sealed this week when councillors are asked to agree that the Rosary Tavern should be converted into flats.

The Thorpe Hamlet pub, which dates back to the 19th century, closed in 2009 and owner Enterprise Inns sold it, saying it was unable to survive in tough economic conditions.

David Smith, from Coltishall, who snapped up the building in Rosary Road, has asked Norwich City Council for permission to turn the two-storey building into three flats, while keeping the existing flat on the second floor.

The application will be discussed when the city council’s planning applications committee meets on Thursday and council officers are recommending the scheme is approved.

But the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is convinced the building could still thrive as a pub and are urging councillors to turn down the plans.

Mike Spivey, pubs preservation officer with the Norwich and Norfolk branch of CAMRA, said there had been potential buyers who wanted to retain the building as a pub.

He said the pub had previously been ‘tied’ to Enterprise Inns, which meant it could only stock beers from certain suppliers, whereas as a freehouse it might have stood more of a chance of survival.

Mr Spivey said: “The pub had been a successful one for many years before the change in licensee. It was a pioneer of cask ales at a time when they were becoming difficult to find in the city.

“Prior to the change of licensee, it was a destination pub in its own right, well known throughout real ale circles and football fans throughout the country.

“The Rosary was and could be again, a significant pub. The city’s cultural heritage is being continuously lost and the preservation of such characterful pubs as The Rosary is important if people are to be encouraged to drink sensibly in a controlled but sociable atmosphere.”

A similar application was rejected last October. Councillors turned that proposal down because the Rosary was identified as an historic public house under the local plan and the applicant had not provided information to allow the viability of its continued use as a pub to be assessed.

However, officers said the revised application, while not providing “detailed financial evidence to allow a full economic appraisal” was accompanied by letters from the selling agents of Enterprise Inns showing efforts to market it. Senior planning officer Rob Parkinson said: “While the loss of the pub as a community facility and business premises is regrettable, the evidence submitted to justify the loss of the Rosary Tavern as a pub has provided adequate demonstration that attempts have been made to promote the pub.

“There has been some attempts to market the premises as a going concern and to operate during difficult economic conditions and the application includes some evidence that attempts were made to market the pub for continued operation.”

While officers are recommending that the plans are approved, the final say will be with councillors.

The Evening News’ Love Your Local Campaign has urged people to make use of the city’s pubs to stop them from disappearing. For more stories on the Evening News’ Love Your Local campaign visit www.eveningnews24.co.uk/loveyourlocal

Have you got a pubs story? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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