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Owner of closed Stoke Ferry pub accuses community group of doing little but 'frustrating' development




The community group behind plans to reopen Stoke Ferry's only pub has been slammed by the owner for its "inactivity".

Save The Blue Bell has today (Tuesday) held a photocall to celebrate receipt of a £2,500 grant which will fund a survey of the premises as it looks to progress its campaign.

But a second planning application by the owner to convert the property into a home has been lodged and it includes stinging criticism of the group.

Residents of Stoke Ferry in the church grounds to try and get support toreopen the village’s last pub, the Blue Bell,. (41664271)
Residents of Stoke Ferry in the church grounds to try and get support toreopen the village’s last pub, the Blue Bell,. (41664271)

London firm Oxygen 56 Ltd claims to have made two separate offers of a £100,000 interest-free loan to help Save The Blue Bell buy the property but says neither have been taken up.

"Very significant offers of financial assistance have been made to the group which claimed it wanted to purchase the property and was so vocal in their representations to the planning inspectorate.

"The lack of activity from this group would indicate it does not have genuine intentions to purchase and re-open the property but was merely set up to frustrate a residential use for the building," says a report accompanying the application.

Residents of Stoke Ferry in the church grounds to try and get support toreopen the village’s last pub, the Blue Bell,. (41664272)
Residents of Stoke Ferry in the church grounds to try and get support toreopen the village’s last pub, the Blue Bell,. (41664272)

Oxygen 56 had its previous planning application for a change of use to a dwelling refused late last year and its subsequent appeal was dismissed.

The latest application to West Norfolk Council includes a proposal to remove "some of the unsightly later extensions" and convert the remainder to a single residential dwelling.

It says: "The proposals will involve minimal change to the front and side elevations and will result in removing some of the later additions to the rear of building.

"The whole exterior will be repaired and all external areas and fences tidied up which will significantly improve the appearance from the street."

It continues: "Alternative commercial uses have been investigated but none seem suitable.

"Whilst the loss of the pub is regrettable, there is no long term viable future for it to trade.

"The property has been closed for a considerable period of time and if the building can not be converted to residential use it is highly likely it will remain empty indefinitely resulting in further subsequent degradation of the building fabric, associated crime and anti-social behaviour such as fly-tipping."

Stephen Ward, Colin Sampson and Steve Leggett are backing the Blue Bell in Stoke Ferry (41653865)
Stephen Ward, Colin Sampson and Steve Leggett are backing the Blue Bell in Stoke Ferry (41653865)

Save The Blue Bell has been asked for comment.

Just two weeks ago the Lynn News reported on the group being heartened by the award of the grant from The Plunkett Foundation, which supports community businesses and runs the More than a Pub programme.

The group says it has a viable business plan and hopes the foundation will give further financial support in the form of a £50,000 grant and £50,000 loan.

The four-bedroom property is currently on the market for £220,000.



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