Plans to extend a town's historic hotel have been approved
PUBLISHED: 15:15 04 October 2019 | UPDATED: 20:24 04 October 2019
A grade II listed hotel is set to expand after a bid for a bigger restaurant and more bedrooms was approved.
The Thomas Paine Hotel, in Thetford, had lodged plans with Breckland Council to extend its restaurant and increase its number of bedrooms.
The hotel's current owners, Gez and Rosy Chetal, took over the hotel in 2013, but since then have invested nearly £400,000 in renovations to return it to its former glory.
The hotel is said to be the birthplace of its revolutionary and political activist namesake.
Mr Chetal said: "When I first came here, this end of town was more or less closed down and the hotel was half boarded up.
"Grade II listed buildings are a big project and expense and not everyone would buy them. But I knew this was a special building and I wanted to carry on the traditions and heritage of Thomas Paine.
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"We intend to start building in January, to extend out through the restaurant with a room that can seat 90, with two new bedrooms upstairs. Everything is going to be kept in line with the grade II listed requirements."
Before it was a hotel, records suggest three cottages sat on the site and in 1737 one of them is believed to have been where Thomas Paine, known for being a revolutionary writer who supported American independence, was born.
The Thomas Paine Hotel was officially opened in Thetford in 1979 by then-mayor of the town Colin Armes, who today backs the extension plans and said he hopes it will bring more people to the town.
Sylvia Armes, Mr Armes' wife and another former mayor, said on her husband's behalf: "Colin was thrilled when the Chetal's took over the hotel.
"They are helping move Thetford forward and improve the town.
"If it hadn't been for them, the hotel would have just been another boarded up building. It's great to see it looking in such good condition after all of these years, and that is thanks to Gez and Rosie."
The hotel, which also has a registrar licence, has been taking wedding bookings for 2021 and Mr Chetal hopes with the increased capacity that more couples will choose the site as their wedding venue.