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Plans for the Red Lion

by Dan Metcalfe - 16:18 on 21 January 2010

 After experiencing the enthusiasm in the village for the re-opening of the Red Lion, Anna and I have been working on a scheme that would enable the enhancement and re-launch of the village pub.

We propose to completely renovate the public house internally and externally (click the drawing below to display a List of Works) to provide a quality destination for drinking and eating at the heart of the village, then convert the existing storage barn into a two bed cottage and provide for an adjacent new three bed cottage.

New seating and landscaped areas will be provided to the front of the building.

As part of the proposal we will make the following conditions:

The pub will be fully refurbished and opened before any other building takes place. This refurbishment will be inside and out including landscaping and will take a massive investment.

We will take responsibility for opening and sourcing quality management for the pub (we have experience at The Sun Inn in Hawkshead which we have owned for several years)

The owners/occupiers of the new houses will be covenanted not to object to the pub’s existence.

We will work with CAMRA and the Prince of Wales’ "Pub is the Hub" charity ( consult with locals to bring about a sustainable local offering.

The aim is to create a business and living quarters which will appeal to a dedicated couple seeking a village pub lifestyle, and which can survive without huge turnover.

There will be no significant loss of car parking.

There will be a small children’s/family outside area - sufficient for a "village pub".

We will be holding a small exhibition of the plans in the village hall on Thursday, 28th January between 4pm and 6:45pm.

Further plans and pictures showing different angles will be available on our architect’s website shortly; we will publicise the link to this site when they have been uploaded.

We would like to hear your comments before we decide whether to take this proposal before the parish and local councils.

If we can harness the enthusiasm shown so far for the village pub then I am sure we can turn it into a success story.

Yours faithfully

Dan Metcalfe
Land House

(Readers are invited to make their comments below. Ed)

Comment from Tony & Sue Ash at 17:22 on 21 January 2010.
We think this is tremendously good news for everyone in Caston, Northacre and Stow Bedon. The owner of the property has given us the opportunity to retain a facility that has been sorely missed.
It will be somewhere for the village community to meet. The owner with a proven track record is offering something for our village. Let's get our name back on the map for cyclists, walkers and visitors to Norfolk. What the owners need is a response from us showing local support. If we do not support the Pub then it could be lost.
The offer is good food, good beer and a local community asset. If as a community we support it there is no reason why this venture should fail.
Comment from Steve Farmbrough at 14:10 on 22 January 2010.
I like what I have seen and read and I like this Mans attitude towards the future of our village. As long as he sticks to his guns and doesn't change anything he has my vote and support.
Comment from Malcolm Valentine at 19:42 on 23 January 2010.
I'm greatly encouraged by Dan's approach and wish him well for this venture. With so many pubs closing in England each week Caston needs a well run viable pub that is not bled white by its owner.

If Dan can charge a realistic rent, that the business can afford at every stage of its development and the new landlord make a good living from a lively well supported pub that in turn does not have to charge exhorbitant prices then I am greatly encouraged by this plan.

Comment from phil crosthwaite jr at 13:50 on 25 January 2010.
This is a copy of the email that i sent to Dan Metcalfe

Dear Dan,

My family and i would like to express our delight in your aim to re-open the Red lion. My family and i like to meet every Friday evening for a drink and sometimes food and the thought of being able to 'pop out for a pint' anytime is fantastic. At the moment we use The Waggon and Horses in Griston which has a great landlord, good food and more importantly great ale. We have been living in the village long enough to remember the pub in good shape and hope with your experience and our support that this can happen again. I think that everyone knew there would have to be a compromise and building regulations have held this pub back in the past. I wish you luck in your application for revised planning permission after all we just wanted a pub back.

Yours sincerely

Phil Crosthwaite and family
Cloverleaf home interiors
The barns
Bridge House Farm
Comment from Robin Smith at 14:07 on 26 January 2010.
I think it is fantastic that the pub is to be reopened, but we must remember to support it, when it does open,AND NOT JUST ON OPENING NIGHT!!!!!!
Robin Smith
The Street
Comment from Graham at 20:39 on 28 January 2010.
I went to look at the plans for the Red Lion and talked to the new owner. It seems a very good idea and I cannot wait to finally visit the pub which closed as we moved into the village.
Comment from David Childerhouse at 19:13 on 07 February 2010.
I think this is excellent news. I just hope residents in the village support it. If everybody in the village used the pub it would still be open today.
Comment from Kevin Pell at 15:23 on 08 February 2010.
Having seen the plans recently in the village hall I wish you all the very best with your application, both my wife and I would look forward along with members or our International martial arts organisation to the reopening of our much missed village pub.
Comment from Dan Metcalfe at 18:11 on 11 February 2010.
Thank you all for your support. It has encouraged us greatly to move forward with the plans. I'll be at the Red Lion taking a photo hopefully for publication tomorrow (Friday 12th Feb) at 2pm if anybody wanted to pop along would be good to see people.
Comment from Liam Donnelly at 20:23 on 17 February 2010.
Although we do not, nor ever have, lived in Norfolk let alone Caston, my wife and I are delighted with this news.

The publican on The Red Lion from 1797 until 1803 was my wife's ancestor George Beaumont. He owned a good deal of land in the village and his second child William Henry is buried in the church yard - the stone is still clear to read.

As a result we have visited your lovely village many times and undertaken a great deal of research about it.

To think of it returning to a vibrant focus of the community as it was over 200 years ago is heartwarming.

Good luck to you and everyone in Caston.
(What an excellent comment - thank you Ed.)
Comment from Stephen Gill at 11:53 on 22 February 2010.
Although Lois and I only moved to Caston in October 2009 we would both love to see the Red Lion restored to useful life. I am teetotal (Lois isn't!) but would welcome an affordable place to eat and meet friends & family.
Comment from Dan Pinnock at 17:11 on 23 February 2010.
I have been vowing to return to Caston for some time but with no pub and my mother no longer occupying the Cottage on the green I have no real reason nor place to meet folks (and hopefully make a grand entrance). Please, please, please let me know as soon as the pub opens so I can come back and prop up the bar and fill its till. I'll drag Hairy Mike and Dicky Hill along as well.
Comment from Dan Metcalfe at 17:40 on 17 March 2010.
Many thanks for all the support messages. Breckland council has told me they cannot take blog entries as indications of support so if people wanted to email with the reference 3PL/2010/0108/F that would be very helpful. And if you copy me in at then I can make sure they register and listen to your views.
Comment from Dan Metcalfe at 13:08 on 30 March 2010.
Sorry the correct email address for Breckland council is, not as in my previous post
Comment from Dan Metcalfe at 14:13 on 11 July 2010.
No doubt people are wondering why things haven't been moving forward on the Red Lion. Obviously we've embarked on a pretty complex process, and there are many reasons why we've been unable to start work, but the overriding one is that we are still waiting on Breckland council to issue the formal planning consent and conditions. I've recently been promised this will be with me very shortly, but in the words of Dianna Ross "I'm still waiting". Once we have a timetable I'll try to keep everybody informed.
Comment from Dan Metcalfe at 08:26 on 31 July 2010.
Further to my last comment, I have been asked to clarify the situation further. When we suggested the scheme to reopen the pub, we agreed that as a condition of our being allowed to develop the site, we would open the pub first, and not to make any application for change of use on the pub for a period of ten years. That agreement needs to be put into a legal agreement known as a "section 106" agreement by Breckland Council. This they have failed to do though it has now been many months since the council meeting. We do not know why there is this delay but we chase them regularly. We cannot start any work before we have this agreement. Then, obviously in order to be able to refurbish the pub we need to borrow money. The banks will not consider our application for funds until they see the exact terms of the 106. Whilst all this goes on we are still working very hard on the plans for making the pub look really great and seeking help from local and national organisations to ensure it's a success. Letters and emails of support are VERY useful to us, particulatrly from local people and groups who would like to use the pub, so we are very grateful for those who have sent their support, and PLEASE keep them coming. Thank you.
Comment from Kevin Pell at 11:41 on 19 October 2010.
Does anybody have an update on what's happening to our village pub? I am sure I am not alone in wishing to see this open as soon as possible. Any update would be greatfuly received.
Kevin and Teresa Pell
The Old Bakery,
Comment from Luci & Ian Yates at 12:25 on 05 November 2010.
We agree it would be great to see the village pub reopened. We only moved to Caston in August 2009 but we'd welcome a local pub where we can meet other villagers and socialise with friends. Lets hope Dan gets the agreement from the Council soon so that work can start, we agree with Kevin it would be good to have an update on what is happening to the place.
Comment from Tony Ash at 17:38 on 30 November 2010.
The refurbishment of the Red Lion will start shortly. Dan and his team have been working hard to ensure the final product has all the requirements of a local rural village pub.
It is anticipated that the Red Lion will be open for the summer.
The new managers have been selected and have a proven record in the culinary department
Comment from Guy Venables at 10:20 on 06 February 2011.
I know the Sun Inn. I make a regular trip there to see a friend playing music and go to their beer festival. It's one of the best pubs in the south of England.
Comment from Phil Crosthwaite jnr at 20:37 on 09 February 2011.
Oh rumours. I have heard today that the pub is to be turned into an Italian resturant with the whole process being filmed for a documentary. Any truth in this? If not does anyone know what is happening is it only me that is losing faith 6 months on from the proposed opening date.
Comment from Carrie Ackrill at 14:47 on 03 September 2011.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and my husband Barry Ackrill (and of course our two year old Daughter Sydney) as the new tenants of the Red Lion, Caston.
We are currently located in a community village pub in a Leicestershire village called Claybrooke Magna, where we have traded successfully for the past 3 years. Our business is very much food led but also providing a comfortable and welcoming environment for local customers to get together over a pint or 2!
We have been in the pub trade for 15 years so we will bring a wealth of experience to the Red Lion. We plan to relocate in October 2011 with a view to hopefully opening the pub in mid November. We are hugely excited about the new challenges that lie ahead and are hopeful that the local community will support us in our quest to make the Red Lion a wonderful community pub as it once was.
I am a trained chef and plan to offer a menu to suit all focusing on using local produce and offering a selection of good hearty home cooked foods. We also plan to hopefully open the pub from 10am offering coffees and home made cakes, thus making the pub more accessible at different times of the day.
So, I can certainly quash rumours of an Italian restaurant .... however there may be some pasta dishes from time to time!
Obviously, as we are opening a new business and starting from scratch we will need to recruit a new team of staff. So if there is anybody who is interested in offering their skills to the Red Lion please do not hesitate to contact me via my email. I will be re locating to the Red Lion from 1st October in order to get the business operational so will be conducting interviews thereafter.
Myself, Barry and Sydney very much look forward to meeting you all at the Red Lion.
Kind Regards.

(to email Carrie, click on her underlined name above. Ed.)
Comment from Tony Ash at 20:52 on 03 September 2011.
Roll on November

Restored! A place to socialise and meet your neighbours. Make new friends and create a real village community.
Comment from Amanda James at 18:09 on 06 September 2011.
My family and I are looking so forward for this pub to open. I'd love to work there also. If any positions are available, please let me know. Thank you!

(Amanda, you can email Carrie by clicking on her name above. Ed)
Comment from Carrie Ackrill at 21:40 on 14 September 2011.
Amanda please email me if you are interested in a position at the Red Lion.
Comment from Carrie Ackrill at 13:27 on 14 October 2011.
Well I've been in the village for 2 weeks now and myself and Sydney have received a very warm welcome from you all - so thank you . My Husband Barry will be joining us at the end of October and he is looking forward to meeting everyone and getting to know the area.

I have recruited several members of staff already and I'm pleased to say that each and every one of them lives locally which is fantastic for the community. And I'm thrilled with my choice I have met some great people so far.

However, I am still looking for a cleaner ( or possibly 2 to split the week). A reliable cleaner is an invaluable part of the team so if anybody is interested please do not hesitate to contact me via my email.

We are on schedule to open on or around Thursday 17th November which is all very exciting , in good time for Christmas. We very much look forward to seeing you all in the Red Lion for a celebratory drink.

Kind Regards

Carrie, Barry & Sydney
Comment from Carrie Ackrill at 21:27 on 28 November 2011.
Hello all

It was very close but we managed to open the Red Lion on 17th November and we were packed to the rafters with many locals and familiar faces. We've had a good start and hopefully it will continue and we will see more Caston residents visiting the pub in the future.

The coffee machine has now arrived so we will be serving coffees and homemade cakes from 10 am on Wednesday 30th November serving Tuesday - Sunday ..... so come and give us a try !

The phone number for the Red Lion is 01953 483858 so don't hesitate to book a table to eat or just pop in for a drink.

We look forward to seeing you all at the Red Lion soon.

Best Wishes

Carrie, Barry & Sydney
Comment from Carrie Ackrill at 18:59 on 05 December 2011.
Hello again

Our local MP George Freeman will be visiting the Red Lion this coming Friday 9th December from 7.30 pm onwards to show his support and meet the residents of Caston.So do come along and have " a pint with your MP". A good opportunity to meet him in the flesh and possibly raise some local issues that any of you may have ???

Hope to see some local faces !

Best Wishes

Carrie, Barry & Sydney
Comment from Terri Baines at 16:46 on 29 December 2011.
We are moving from the US to Hall Farm Cottage in early April and are delighted that the Red Lion has reopened. Although we have always enjoyed the Waggon and Horses in Griston, the thought of having a pub even closer makes us even happier with our choice to reside in Caston

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