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Row over delays to Wetherspoon opening pub in Norfolk town

PUBLISHED: 09:34 07 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:52 07 November 2018

The former North Walsham town council offices where Wetherpoon's plans to open a new pub. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The former North Walsham town council offices where Wetherpoon's plans to open a new pub. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

A row has broken out over delays to pub giant JD Wetherspoon opening a new business in a Norfolk town.

North Norfolk District Council member Nigel Lloyd. Picture: Nicholas ManthorpeNorth Norfolk District Council member Nigel Lloyd. Picture: Nicholas Manthorpe

Nigel Lloyd, Liberal Democrat councillor for North Walsham North ward, at North Norfolk District Council (NNDC), is frustrated at the time it’s taking.

He said it was now four and a half years since the Conservative-led NNDC agreed to sell the former town council offices building in New Road to the pub chain.

The firm still plans to move into the site and a spokesman said: “Not exchanged – waiting for council to come back to us. We remain committed to the site.”

Mr Lloyd said: “The site has been vacant for Wetherspoon to purchase for some time now. Wetherspoon’s keep saying it still wants to come to the town, but time passes, and nothing seems to happen. How long should we wait while the building continues to deteriorate?

Richard Price. Picture: NORTH NORFOLK DISTRICT COUNCILRichard Price. Picture: NORTH NORFOLK DISTRICT COUNCIL

“There is one thing the district council should now do to bring this saga to an end. Give a firm deadline to Wetherspoon to buy the site and if this does not happen let the town have their say over its future.”

But fellow councillor Richard Price, deputy leader of NNDC and portfolio holder for property and asset commercialisation, said recent delays to the sale had been caused by calls to amend public rights of way across the site.

However, he said Wetherspoon was taking forward its plans and moving forward the legal process.

Mr Price said: “The district council shares local people’s concerns over the length of time that the building has now been empty.

“However, whilst the delays are frustrating, enquiries the council has made suggests that this situation is not uncommon with Wetherspoon investments in that the company has a large number of pipeline schemes which cannot all be delivered at the same time.

“I can assure the people of North Walsham that we are committed to facilitating the arrival, at the earliest possible opportunity, of Wetherspoon’s.”

The town council was the last occupant of the property to relocate from the building in September 2016.

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