Shop plans for south Norfolk pub

A family-owned pub has unveiled plans to strengthen its community role at a south Norfolk village after submitting plans for a shop and post office.Ten years after the last store closed in Wreningham, the owners of the Bird In Hand public house have launched diversification proposals that could see the conversion of a garage and store room into a retail enterprise.

A family-owned pub has unveiled plans to strengthen its community role at a south Norfolk village after submitting plans for a shop and post office.

Ten years after the last store closed in Wreningham, the owners of the Bird In Hand public house have launched diversification proposals that could see the conversion of a garage and store room into a retail enterprise.

A community-run post office, village store, and farm shop scheme is part of plans that could also see the creation of a cafe at the pub, kitchen extension, petanque court, and eight new B&B units on the site.

David and Gill Brake, who bought the 19th century listed pub almost two years ago, said the 'pub is the hub' strategy aimed to boost the viability of the country pub in the current economic climate.


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The project, which has been submitted to South Norfolk Council, would also see the sale of a plot of 'brownfield' land next to the pub's car park for three houses.

Mr and Mrs Brake, who run the pub and restaurant with their children, Lizzy (manager), Alex (bar manager) and Milly, said the business could not stand still.

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'Unfortunately, this trade is not enjoying the best of health, so just doing what we do is unfortunately not going to get you into a position where you can be reasonably content about your future. All you can do is look at other associated parts of the trade and one thing is letting accommodation,' said Mr Brake, who has been in the industry all of his working life.

The family, who live in the village, say that they have already had 100 signatures of support for their proposals, some of which stemmed from a parish plan that highlighted the community desire to see the return of a village shop and post office in Wreningham.

Mr Brake said the success of the shop depended on the 72 villagers, who have expressed willingness to volunteer time to the running of a community shop.

The pub already has planning consent, secured by a previous owner, for a 14 room motel extension at the Bird In Hand, but the owners want to downgrade the project to eight units.

Mr Brake said he was building contacts with Group Lotus and Classic Team Lotus, based in nearby Hethel, and Lotus F1 in Hingham, to utilise the planned accommodation.

'We are very hopeful. We realise it is a challenge so we have spoken to our neighbours who are broadly in support and the parish council and a district councillor who are supportive,' he said.

Residents have until September 14 to comment on the plans.

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