The news that JD Wetherspoon has upped its efforts to open a pub in Diss has been met with cautious optimism by the local branch of Camra, the real ale campaign group.
Planning permission for a new building in King’s Head Yard, off Mere Street and overlooking the Mere, was secured in 2013 by landowner Joe Darrell. Those plans were backed by South Norfolk Council.
The national chain has now itself submitted changed plans on the site for a bar and restaurant.
Peter Abery, spokesman for the Mid Anglia Camra branch, which covers Diss, said: “Wetherspoons have generally been big supporters of Camra. In the UK there are 29 pubs closing per week.
“There’s a fine balance between looking after the interests of existing businesses and supporting new pubs opening.”
“It could draw more people into Diss, which would be a good thing.”
Mr Abery said the chain occupies a niche in the marketplace, and said that existing licensees who have built good reputations should not be affected too much.
There has also been a mixed response to the news on social media, with some welcoming the chain’s distinct offering, but also some worries over increased anti-social behaviour in the town centre.
The fresh plans have been lodged to increase the floor space on the original application by 396 square metres, to a total floor space of 953 square metres.
J D Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “The new Wetherspoon application shows a minor increase to ground floor footprint and increased first floor trading area – together with a new balcony with views overlooking the Mere.
“The new proposal also provides for customer toilets and back of house accommodation to the first floor. The proposal retains the general form of the previous application, with a glazed curved facade facing the Mere, with the roof gently falling away to the rear. We are extremely keen to open a pub in Diss.”
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