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Campaigners battling to save west Norfolk village pub

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Campaigners fighting to save a 200-year-old village pub are calling on residents to help stop it from being turned into housing.

The White Hart at Foulden is under threat from development and has been since last year, with two previous planning applications thrown out.

Any future plans could see the quaint pub, which has been stripped bare, turned into one houses with parking if they were given the go-ahead.

The White Hart at Foulden (44167168)
The White Hart at Foulden (44167168)

It is believed that the current owners, who vacated the premises several years ago before leasing it out to a brewery, feel that the pub is no longer viable.

The White Hart Community Benefits Society group is desperately trying to save the freehold of the pub, but has already had two bids rejected by the owners.

Its members feel that the historic pub is an integral part of the community.

Stephen Ward, chairman of the group, said: “There is no need for additional housing in the village. There are 21 houses approved for development which have yet to be built.

“More importantly, the pub is the last amenity, and we want to buy it for the village and run it as a community hub.

“Villagers decided it didn’t want to lose the last amenity in the village. The school went 25 years years ago, the shop 20 years ago; the church has services only once every six weeks and the village hall, built by the villagers, is now in desperate need for repairs.

“The majority of us played bridge once a week at the pub for the last 10-20 years as well as having regular quiz nights and folk evenings.

“We don’t want the pub to be attempting to be a gastro pub, just a honest village pub giving a honest pub offering to the village.”

The group, who are looking at a share prospectus for the pub, also carried out a survey among villagers.

“Only one person said it would never work if we were to take on the pub and that was after consulting with everyone in the village,” said Mr Ward.

Simon Jackman, from special lesiure property agents Fleurets, said: “At the end of the day the last thing anyone wants is for a building to stand empty.

“I live in a village where we lost our pub a couple of years ago and houses were built on the land.

“The White Hart was put on the market late September/early October 2019 and we are instructed by the freeholder.

“We’ve had a reasonable number of enquiries and there have been a number of viewings. The main interest has been for residential use and there was an instance where planning was refused at the first application.

“The pub group have made a couple of offers but it was considerably below the current asking price and nothing has changed since then.”

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