Town might finally be getting Wetherspoon pub after five-year saga
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The red light holding back plans for a JD Wetherspoon pub in North Walsham finally looks to be on the cusp of turning green.
North Norfolk District Council has said 'final issues' that have stopped the project moving forward for years have been sorted out, and an exchange of contracts was imminent.
Nigel Lloyd, the council's environment and property executive member, said at a full council meeting on Wednesday: 'I'm delighted to announce that this Lib Dem administration has resolved all the final issues that there were with this case and we are ready to exchange contracts.
'I'm hoping that within a day or two we will be able to announce that deal will be signed and we can take it to the next level.'
Wetherspoon has around 900 outlets across the UK and is also working on plans for a new pub next to the Diss Mere.
It first proposed buying North Walsham's now former town council office in New Road in 2014. While many supported the plan, it drew criticism from residents of nearby Cedar Court, who were worried about noise and anti-social behaviour.
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A contract for Wetherspoon to pursue the purchase of the site was agreed in 2016, but the plans were then delayed over a right-of-way dispute.
A number of residents feared a cut-through on the site linking Hall Lane and New Road would be cut off, forcing them to go around 'dangerously narrow' alternative route.
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But the district council said these issues were resolved in 2017, and on February 4 they threw down the gauntlet and urged the pub chain to get a move on.
Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: 'We are pleased that the issues have been resolved and that the council is ready to exchange contracts.
'We have said from the outset that our aim is to open a pub in the town and that is still very much the case.
'We would still require the necessary planning and licensing permissions. We believe that a Wetherspoon pub would be good for the town and hopefully act as a catalyst for other businesses to invest there too.'
Barry Hester, North Walsham's mayor, said he had also heard the pub chain's plans were on the move. He said a Wetherspoon pub could only be good for the town.
Mr Hester said: 'It's a very good idea. Let's get it there.'