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Proposals to convert Downham Market hotel to flats to go before planning committee next week

Planning officials have recommended that proposals to convert a Downham hotel to housing be approved when the application is discussed at a meeting next week.

West Norfolk Council's planning committee are set to hear of the plans to create eight new homes at the Grade II listed Castle Hotel, on High Street, at its meeting on Monday.

The application was recommended for refusal by the town council when it considered the proposals last month, with the authority saying: "The proposed development by reason of the loss of hotel accommodation, would adversely affect the vitality and viability of Downham Market town centre".

The Castle Hotel in Downham, which is subject of a planning application to convert it into housing (25496363)
The Castle Hotel in Downham, which is subject of a planning application to convert it into housing (25496363)

But in a report to the committee, planning officials say: "Whilst the concerns of the town council are noted, the applicant has demonstrated a lengthy but unsuccessful marketing exercise to sell the premises as a going concern, and the closure of the hotel is imminent."

It adds that the loss of the hotel would "not be so significant" upon accommodation in the area to warrant a reason for refusal.

The report goes on to say that the conversion of the hotel into residential units would create "'less than substantial harm' to the significance of this heritage asset/listed building and the long-term public benefits of securing a sustainable use for this building, without impacting upon its impressive interior, outweigh this less than substantial harm".

A statement from the agent says the applicant has "no option" but to close the Castle Hotel on March 30, after four years of attempting to sell the business have been successful – despite lowering the asking price by £70,000 in the time it has been on the market.

The agent says: "The applicant is devastated that he has not been able to sell the hotel as a going concern, having put his life and soul into making the hotel a success.

"However, at 64 and now with health issues, the applicant has been advised by his doctor to retire, so has no option but to close the hotel on the 30th of March, which coincides with the end of the financial year."

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