Iain Wilson of Holt-based Byfords is expecting to complete the purchase of the Old Brewery House Hotel in Reepham next week after an offer has been accepted by the owners of the property.
Mr Wilson, who managed the hotel for five years in the 1990s, having initially run the hotel’s health club, said that following the purchase, an extensive consultation lasting up to six months will be held with the town’s residents and key stakeholders, with the aim of coming up with a viable commercial plan to move the project forward.
However, it is likely that, if the sale goes through as expected, there will be major changes, particularly at the rear of the property, which closed as a hotel in August.
The first phase of development will be renovating the roof, exterior and downstairs areas of the Grade II listed building on the Market Place side, initially providing a commercial venture for the sale of food and drink. Mr Wilson revealed that this phase alone is likely cost around £1.5 million.
The second stage would be the development of the back of the property. This will probably mean the demolition of the sports centre, which includes a swimming pool and squash courts, and the construction of a number of high-quality residential units in order to fund the renovation and refurbishment of the remainder of the property.
The third phase would involve developing the upstairs area of the main building and the east and west wings, which were later extensions to the property. Mr Wilson suggested that this could result in around 10 bedrooms for the hotel, possibly along the lines of the “posh B&B” offered by Byfords in Holt. (The hotel currently has 23 bedrooms.)
The entire project could take five years to complete, said Mr Wilson. With traditional pubs closing and consumer habits altering drastically over the past 15 years, “so the Old Brewery House will also have to change,” he said. “It is simply not viable for a hotel to exist on a site of that size in Reepham today. Solely as a hotel as it is now, the bottom line is that this is a ‘no go’, so there will have to be significant changes.”
Holt-based Byford’s also owns, co-owns and/or manages the Kings Head at Holt, The Pigs at Edgefield and the Assembly House in Norwich.
Mr Wilson stressed that the company acquires property not just as an investment, but to retain for the long term, although any proposition has to make commercial sense: “Our track record proves that we can provide sustainable benefits to the community.”
He admitted that, following his earlier experience in Reepham, there is a bit of an emotional attachment with the Old Brewery House. “We were looking for a challenge and this project gives us a chance to extend our portfolio, both on the commercial and domestic side," he said.
“I am a strong believer in organic growth. Putting this proposal together has really excited me, and everyone we’ve spoken to so far has been very supportive.”
Full story in the December/January edition of Reepham Life.
What do readers think of this proposal? Is this good for Reepham? Please contact us with any comments.
The Old Brewery House
Sited on an early 17th century building, the house was rebuilt and extended in 1729 and originally named the Dial House because of a large sundial over the front door.
The house was converted into a commercial hotel in 1972 and renamed The Old Brewery House Hotel in recognition of its previous role as residence of the Bircham family that had run a brewery in Reepham for several generations, and because one of the hotel’s principal rooms used to be the brewery.
The Old Brewery House, gates and railings received Grade II listing in 1952.
See our earlier news stories:
Still no buyer for Old Brewery House
Old Brewery House on the market for £800,000
Old Brewery House to close
Old Brewery House owners seeking offers