The Caston Blog
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Goodbye Red Lion – Forever?
by michael - 13:02 on 08 September 2009
A developer is to seek planning permission for change of useage of the Red Lion from that of a public house to that of residential use. At the same time the kitchen area will be demolished, to make space available for a further property next to the existing building.
The parish council is currently considering the proposal.
Do you have a view?
Opposed to it are those who believe that without a pub as a communal meeting point the village will be far less vibrant and far less interesting as a village. They consider that with the right owner there is an opportunity for a pub as well as a restaurant/coffee shop/tea rooms which would be a very attractive feature close to the village green and would make a great addition to village life.
But some opposition to this view has been stated in the belief that this is merely the continued existence of a pub which has not proven financially viable in the past and will not in the future and while awaiting the appearance of the “the right owner” the Red Lion will simply fall into greater disrepair than at present and a continuing eyesore.
What is your view? – stated here it can be a clear message from the villagers of Caston to the council and could well sway their final view by having them take into account your thinking on the proposal. All views will be published.
The new owner of the Red Lion has submitted this artist's impression of the changes he hopes to make:-
I vote for it speedily becoming an attractive residential property.
The worst that could happen is that it should be forced to stagger on servicing a very small minority of "regulars" and facing repeated closure and reopening.
It is the centre of the community and without it we think it is sad. It would be wonderful to have a good restaurant here and we are sure that if the pub had a good chef and maybe bed and breakfast facilities it would do well. It is quite a big plot so other facilities could be built as well. It doesnt have to be a big drinking bar.
We agree with Steve Farnborough - that if it has to become a house then it should be only one dwelling - worse scenario.
I think that a pub matters to the community - a part of the social framework. The school is said to be the heart of a community - is not a pub its lungs?
My heart tells me that a pub with quality food that stayed open during the day to serve cream teas and the like would be really nice. To sit under a garden shade in the warm sunlight, enjoying a gentle westerly breeze, overlooking the village green, conjures up a delightful picture of the English summer – the kind that I so enjoyed in my youth.
But my head tells me that sentimentality won’t win the day. The likelihood of anyone coming along to buy the Red Lion and run it in that fashion must be very remote indeed. According to new figures released in July 2009, by the British Beer and Pubs Association, pubs in Britain closed at the rate of 52 per week during the first half of 2009 and that’s up by a third over the last six months of 2008. They go on to say that over the last 12 months, 2,377 pubs have closed down, resulting in 24,000 job losses. In the three years to 2009, a total of 5,134 pubs have closed and there are now 53,466 pubs in Britain. Now, what we don’t know is how many of these closures related to ‘drinking’ pubs as opposed to ‘restaurant’ pubs but the problem with the Red Lion is that it doesn’t seem to have the space necessary to provide sufficient tables to make it a viable 'restaurant' pub.
So, the decision facing the planners is, do they stick to the present usage of a public house and see the Red Lion fall into greater disrepair waiting for someone to risk their money, on the off-chance of turning it into a successful business, knowing full well that others have failed in the past and that times have moved on anyway - and meanwhile the aesthetic appearance of the village suffers as a result of the further degradation of the building, or do they say yes to a change of use in order that the village green area can be restored to the pretty and attractive area that it once was.
Times have moved on – what justification can there be for believing that Caston, a small village of 180 homes, not on a main thoroughfare, will buck the trend that is seeing increasing pub closures all over Britain?
And, to all of you folk who say you would like to see it reopened again, ask yourself, did you fully support it when it was open previously? Because if you had, then it almost certainly wouldn't be closed today!
I hope the planners will see sense and let the village have the opportunity of getting our pub back - if this is not possible, ONLY ONE HOUSE!!!not two!!!
We do need some green space in our village
Although the Red Lion lacks the beauty of the river Yare there is no reason why it could not be a profitable pub providing the right personable, capable, astute business man or woman ran it. The secret of success is in the right person. The awkward facilities of small bar or difficult restaurant arrangements are a poor excuse – just look at the Thompson Chequers, the Griston Wagon and Horses or even the Ferry Inn at Surlingham. None of them has easy facilities yet it is the landlord who has turned them into good ‘I must visit them again’ type pubs. The Red Lion could also provide the catering for the two large events currently held annually in the village; and no doubt there would be others held locally.
We must also accept that there could be a social and business demand for other facilities such as a pool table, local home grown pop-group evenings, juke box, large screen sky TV and other activities to attract the younger members of our society. This may inconvenience some local people but for social reasons it more important to provide such facilities locally.
A successful pub could also provide much needed part time employment for local people – cleaners, bar, restaurant and kitchen staff and other outside staff.
There are too many vested interests wanting this pub closed and converted into a string of dwellings; the new owner of the Red Lion wants a quick profit; architects, builders and other artisans need jobs and Breckland Council welcomes an enhanced council tax income. We the inhabitants of Caston must prevent this from happening as it will turn our treasured village into another anonymous estate with minimal facilities.
If left much longer it will start to collapse as the White House is, then they can knock it down as an unsafe structure,(is that what they are hoping to happen to the White House I wonder)
.. Webmaster did update the village to the plans at the first opportunity and invited comments. Several comments were placed and the local residents were easily identified as their surnames were published.
.. Many rural pubs that were due to lose their status are now on-going concerns due to local support. The questionnaires that we got back from Caston, Northacre and Stow Bedon all showed total support. With so many positive replies could we just let it be "rubber stamped"?
"Whingers" I feel should be replaced with the words "local residents"!! As for the comment "coming out of the woodwork" - this should be replaced with willing to put pen to paper.
Bitterness has never come into the equation and as for the comment "should know better" perhaps Ruth should have been at the meeting and made comment to the Council members herself.
As for the "chance of improvement" - what improvement could be better than a place for local residents to come together as and when other than for organised functions at the village hall.
One further point is that the owners have a commitment to maintain the Red Lion as a listed building and cannot let it fall into delapidation.
Let us hope that the owners will change their mind and at least try to regain a once thriving and community asset.
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