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Rural pub applies for late licence

PUBLISHED: 16:37 03 July 2008 | UPDATED: 07:30 01 August 2010

PLANS to allow late-night drinking and music at a previously quiet pub have caused uproar in a south Norfolk village.

The new landlords at the White Lion in Wheatacre, near Beccles, have applied to stay open from 6am until 3am.

PLANS to allow late-night drinking and music at a previously quiet pub have caused uproar in a south Norfolk village.

The new landlords at the White Lion in Wheatacre have applied to stay open from 6am until 3am.

About 100 people attended a parish council meeting to hear about the plans. The owners say they have no intention of opening until 3am regularly - but they want the flexibility to do so for special events such as weddings.

The White Lion is being transformed into a gastropub and deli with four bed and breakfast rooms and facilities for weddings.

It has been bought by chartered building surveyor Timothy Worthington-Chapman and his wife Esther Tan, a barrister from Singapore. The chef will be Paul Hanley, who previously worked at the Reedham Ferry and Theatre Royal, and he and his wife will be living on the premises.

On Monday, South Norfolk Council's licensing committee will decide their application for a licence. The pub, which has been closed for several months, was previously run by an elderly couple and kept limited hours.

There have been 28 letters objecting to the proposal, and seven letters of support.

Objectors include Gordon Maclean, who said "Wheatacre is a very peaceful village and we want to keep it that way," and Francesca Hart, who said: "I moved to Norwich to find some peace and quiet." David Clayton wrote: "As a resident of Wheatacre, I am very distressed by this application."

Council environmental health officer Jason Williams said that amplified music would disturb residents if played in a marquee.

Ms Tan, who lives in Loddon, said: "I think when people see us putting an application for 6am to 3am they think we will be open continuously. We will not. It is the flexibility factor. We want to create a gastro pub where people can have a medium budget wedding or a special meal.

"People just assume that we are going to have this big noise and they are more or less going to convict us before we have started. I understand it is going to be contentious and I understand we have got a fight on our hands. We will appeal if necessary.

"Let us have the licence first and we will prove we are not the sort of publicans you think we are." The pub is due to open on July 27.

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