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TV chef clashes with locals over Brancaster homes plan

PUBLISHED: 11:00 05 February 2010 | UPDATED: 11:10 07 July 2010

Chris Hill

TV chef Chris Coubrough has defended plans to build three houses on land adjoining one of his north Norfolk pubs following objections from villagers.

The New Zealander, star of the ITV Coastal Kitchen programme, owns a string of pubs including The Crown Hotel at Wells and The Crown at East Rudham.

TV chef Chris Coubrough has defended plans to build three cottages on land adjoining one of his north Norfolk pubs following objections from villagers.

The New Zealander, star of the ITV Coastal Kitchen programme, owns a string of pubs including the Crown Hotel at Wells and the Crown at East Rudham.

He added the Ship Inn at Brancaster to his portfolio in October and his company has applied to West Norfolk Council for permission to build three three-bedroom cottages on the existing gravel car park.

It prompted several concerned letters from his new neighbours, including one from Brancaster Parish Council, whose main concern is the loss of parking alongside the busy A149 coast road.

But Mr Coubrough said the criticism was unjustified as the plans include 29 new parking spaces - a net gain of about 20 - on an area which the previous landlord kept for private use.

He said the resurfaced area would improve traffic flow and disabled access, while the planned chalk and flint cottages would help ensure the pub's success at the heart of village life.

"Yes, we are removing a parking resource, but we are adding considerably more," he said. "And, if you ask me, looking at the bit of gravel we have there at the moment, it will look considerably nicer too.

"I know a lot of people are resistant to change but we hope the pub will be a central part of the village and, the more people who use it, the more chance we have of being a successful business. There is nothing worse than a village with an empty pub."

The three planned cottages would each have a garden and two private parking spaces built on the existing beer garden, which would be moved directly next to the pub. Mr Coubrough said this would make it safer for children and easier to monitor under age drinking.

He said complaints about a large marquee to host summer events were also misplaced, as that element of the plan had been superseded by the housing scheme.

The letter from Brancaster Parish Council says its members were "totally against" the proposals.

It says: "The most important point is that there will be less-than-adequate parking facilities with the loss of the current car park. This part of the A149 is very close to a potentially dangerous crossroads where the traffic is extremely busy. In summer there are always cars parked on the main road near the hotel. It will be many times worse if this car park is taken for building."

But the scheme brought no objections from highways officers, whose letter says: "The improved pedestrian facilities, increased parking provision and single point of access are considered to represent a highway gain."

Mr Coubrough said, if built, the planned houses could be rented to seasonal staff or long-term tenants, or even added to The Ship's nine guestrooms.

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