Wetherspoon's ultimatum - are you opening a pub in Norfolk or not?
PUBLISHED: 15:08 04 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:48 04 February 2019
Archant Norfolk 2014
A Norfolk council has issued an ultimatum to JD Wetherspoon demanding to know whether it’s opening a pub in a Norfolk town or not.
A contract for the pub chain to pursue the purchase of the former North Walsham Town Council offices site was agreed in 2016.
And a North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) spokesman said that it had made the site available to JD Wetherspoon in good order and in a timely fashion. But it said JD Wetherspoon had still not discussed detailed plans of its proposals.
Eric Seward, deputy leader of NNDC and ward member for North Walsham (North), said: “This is a run-down prime town centre site. It is over four years since JD Wetherspoon first expressed an interest in coming to North Walsham.
“The district council has done its best to accommodate JD Wetherspoon. However, in the last few weeks there have been conflicting messages from the company over whether they wish to open new pubs in Norfolk.
“The company chairman says no new pubs will be opened in Norfolk, but other company representatives give an opposite message.
“This saga has to come to an end. Are JD Wetherspoon going to open a new pub in North Walsham or are they no longer interested?”
Eddie Gershon, a spokesman for the pub chain, whose boss is Coltishall-born Tim Martin, said they were “absolutely still committed to opening a pub on that site in North Walsham”.
The pub chain approached the district council in 2014 requesting an unencumbered freehold sale on the New Road site, meaning all occupants would need to move out, and the building was empty by September 2016.
A right of way/footpath challenge was raised in 2017 and resolved. The council said this challenge was, therefore, no longer a legal impediment to the sale of the site pending development.
The council believes there are no legal impediments to progressing with the sale of the site.
Earlier this month, Mr Martin gave a speech at The Bell Inn in Norwich, when he said that, although he had opened new pubs in Norfolk recently, there were no plans for any more in the pipeline.