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Uncertain future for Fakenham pub

PUBLISHED: 17:05 18 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:43 07 July 2010

FAKENHAM'S oldest surviving pub may have served its last pint unless publicans step forward to buy it ahead of developers, property agents said.

The Star pub on Oak Street, built in 1600, closed earlier this year and is on the market at £215,000 - low enough to have tempted developers and retailers.

FAKENHAM'S oldest surviving pub may have served its last pint unless publicans step forward to buy it ahead of developers, property agents said.

The Star pub on Oak Street, built in 1600, closed earlier this year and is on the market at £215,000 - low enough to have tempted developers and retailers.

Agents at London-based Paramount Investments said the company would prefer to sell to a new pub landlord but would consider other buyers if none came forward.

Council planning guidelines do not prevent any new buyer changing the use of a redundant pub as long as it is not the last of its kind within a settlement - although officers stressed each application would be considered on merit.

Norfolk campaigners said dire trading conditions were causing five pubs every day to close across the country, but urged potential owners to consider saving the 400-year-old establishment.

Paramount managing director Mark Greig said: “If no publican or pub company steps forward to save the Star, it may cease to be a pub at all.”

A company spokesman added: “Paramount is a company which specialises in selling these buildings, so for that reason it has an interest in pubs staying as pubs, particularly one with this history.

“But given a reasonable amount of time we would have to look at other sectors, rather than see the building boarded up for extended periods.”

Sue Coleman, chairman of the Norfolk and Norwich Licensed Victuallers Association, said market town landlords had been hit hardest by the recession, and continuing closures had left pub property prices at rock bottom.

“Now should be a good time to buy because prices are at their lowest,” she said.

“I would certainly encourage anyone to have a look at the place, even if they have no experience.

“We are in a new economy now and publicans have to make every corner of their business work for them, but there is no reason someone new to the trade could not do that, or even someone who already has a pub in the town. Pubs are often best managed by local people.

“It is a terrible shame for a pub of that age to no longer exist and just become a figment of everybody's memory.

“It is a case of use it or lose it.”

A North Norfolk District Council spokesman said: “Our new Local Development Framework Core Strategy does not prevent the change of use of a public house to an alternative appropriate use, provided that it is not the last of its kind in the settlement.

“There are other pubs in Fakenham so a change of use could be approved. Nothing is guaranteed, of course, but the policy doesn't prevent it in theory. Planning matters are considered on a case-by-case basis.”


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