SO it’s seven years and counting now for the old Ferry Boat on the banks of the Wensum in Norwich. The last of the King Street pubs closed its doors in 2006. Since then it’s been false dawn after false dawn.
Greene King promised a £1million refurb in 2008 but changed its mind, presumably as a result of the looming recession. Then the father and son team behind the Deepdale Farm hostel on the North Norfolk coast came up with a plan to transform it into a “Norwich Backpackers” hostel.
Alister and Jason Borthwick proposed a new building for the car park linked to the original Ferry Boat which would have included some sort of micropub. With the promise of bikes and canoes to hire this seemed a novel way of exploiting the pub’s waterside location. But again there were delays.
And now? Well now Jason Borthwick tells me that costs soared for the grey building we see on those plans. He continues:
“We approached the council to build a smaller building, keep the ferry boat building exactly as in our original plans, but with a smaller new build on the car park. Their reaction was that we would need to start the entire process again, from scratch, basically without any reference to the original plans, while saying that a smaller building would have been preferable from day one (not something they told us). All in all we are far from enamoured with the Norwich City Council planning department and haven't decided a way forward as yet.”
The council says it’s keen to get the site developed having given the original scheme permission in July 2011.
“Since then, we have advised the applicant on a number of occasions what would be needed to take a revised scheme forward. The latest draft scheme is significantly different from the one approved and so cannot be built under his current consents - this is clear under planning law, which we are bound by.”
So for now we’re back to square one. Whatever the rights and wrongs, I fear a key riverside property will continue to look unloved for a few more years yet.
* Why a King Street pub is so important here.
* More on the 2011 Norwich Backpackers scheme here.