'What on Earth has happened?' - confusion as demolition starts on 165-year-old pub
PUBLISHED: 16:52 23 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:29 24 August 2019
An investigation has been launched after demolition works began at a 165-year-old pub without permission.
The Ark, in Norwich Road, Thetford, closed in June after serving the town since 1854.
Work to demolish part of the pub then started - despite the district council saying they were not aware of the plans.
A spokesman for Breckland Council said: "Consent from Breckland Council must be sought and approved prior to any commencement of demolition work in the district.
"In relation to the Ark Public House demolition in Thetford, we have received no planning application to carry out the demolition and have therefore asked the owners to cease any further works, make the area safe and launched an investigation."
Despite the work being halted, the rear of the building has been knocked down and changes made to the inside of the rest of the pub, which is owned by Chippy Capital Limited.
Town councillor Mike Brindle said: "It is very sad and I imagine that the owners are hoping to build more housing like the other homes on the road that are new.
You may also want to watch:
"It is now down to Breckland to make the decision to take action against the developers or let it pass."
Roy Brame, Thetford town councillor, said he was surprised to see the works at the pub.
He said: "I drove past there and I thought 'what on earth has happened?'" I know that you don't always need planning permission to knock something down, but the problem is, although these developers know the law so well, once the building is gone, it's gone.
"My worry is that the developers will try to get planning permission for it as a brown field and then build flats or houses."
The pub was first licensed in 1854 to a Noah Howe as a beerhouse. It closed in 2007 with a refurbishment in April of the following year.
It then reopened in December 2008 under the name Deer's Leap, but was back trading as the Ark by 2016.
Jeff Hoyle, from West Norfolk CAMRA, said: "We are seeing a lot of pubs closing but there are still ones reopening like the Green Dragon. But in some areas we have seen half the pubs close but only one or two open."
Chippy Capital has been contacted for comment