While the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has reported a 14 per cent growth in breweries in the UK - with 18 new East Anglia breweries opening in the last 12 months - the number of places to enjoy a pint may be decreasing.
As vacant pubs struggle to find new owners, two more local historic freehouses, The Old King’s Head in Brockdish and The Crown Inn at Pulham Market, are for sale with local agents - and this week the landmark Chequers Inn at Bressingham, empty for more than a year, was due to go under the auctioneer’s hammer.
Alan Crowest, licensed trade consultant with TW Gaze, who are marketing The Old King’s Head and The Crown Inn, said a sticking point for many potential buyers was the difficulty in getting financial backing from the banks for freehold licensed premises and the high level, in some cases, of business rates.
But Mr Crowest said high business rates were not an issue with the Brockdish and Pulham Market pubs where the rates payable have been £1,260 (2013/14) and £3,815 (2011-12) respectively.
He said both pubs were in good condition and had previously had tenants but were now both empty. Both are Grade II-listed and heavily timbered with many period features. The Crown Inn is priced at £325,000, while The Old King’s Head was on the market for offers in excess of £200,000 and this week was reduced further to £180,000.
“The Old King’s Head is a lot of building for that price. It is a real bargain,” Mr Crowest said. “It is a large space, a lovely old building and the only pub in the village.” The current owners are selling due to ill health. He described The Crown Inn as “the archetypal village pub with a thatched roof and overlooking the village green”. “It has been highly successful in the past and could be again. We are getting some interest at the moment.”
Mr Crowest said that as the pub sector continues to struggle, pubs had to “widen their appeal, particularly if you are out in the country. You have to become a destination venue to bring in customers from further afield, otherwise you won’t survive.” Details are available at www.twgaze.co.uk
The Diss Express reported last week that the guide price at yesterday’s auction at Dunston Hall for the Bressingham Chequers was between £250,000 to £300,000, an attractive price for a freehold pub which underwent a comprehensive £700,000 restoration after being gutted by fire in 2009, whoever buys it will face a business rates bill of £27,750 per year.
CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide 2014, published on Wednesday, reported a “phenomenal growth in the number of breweries producing real ale across the UK” with a boom in microbrewing in our area. DIss Express