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Former Broads pub poised to become religious temple

PUBLISHED: 11:45 10 July 2015 | UPDATED: 08:29 11 July 2015

The former Pontiac roadhouse on the Acle could possibly be turned into a place of worship.

The former Pontiac roadhouse on the Acle could possibly be turned into a place of worship.

© Archant 2015

A landmark Broadland pub is poised for a new lease of life - as a Hindu temple.

From British pub to Spanish restaurant

This latest proposal would give the building located on the Broads a new lease of life.

Over the years the site has seen a string of restaurants founder.

It was originally home to the Stracey Arms, named after the nearby Stracey Arms Mill - a four storey Drainage mill built in 1883.

The pub later became the Three Feathers and then the Pontiac Roadhouse, an American-style diner.

It was at one point offering diners a Chinese style buffet bar before the theme crossed continents again and new owners opened the Spanish restaurant Embrujo, serving tapas, tortillas and salads.

Embrujo - which translates as ‘charming or enchanted’ - was the pub’s most recent guise, but it has been closed for months, after the restaurant moved to the former Hermitage pub in Old Road on the edge of Acle.

Planners are being asked for permission to turn a run-down eaterie halfway down the A47 Acle Straight into a place of worship and centre for festivals like Diwali. If allowed it would be the first of its kind in Norfolk.

The bid has been submitted to the Broads Authority, but safety worries about vehicles turning in and out on the hazardous Halvergate bend have been raised.

Devender Khorana, a consultant orthapedic surgeon at the James Paget Hospital who is backing the bid, said the building would be a meeting place for the Hindu community and wider public with functions and get-togethers to promote social integration.

Yoga and meditation classes would be open to all with children’s activities, healthy eating workshops, and a discussion forum for older folk adding to the programme of events.

He said the building was perfect because it was near flowing water, close to nature and accessible to worshippers from all over region.

For the last 14 years the Hindu community had been meeting at St Mary’s Church in Yarmouth but had outgrown its home.

“It will be for the benefit of everyone, not one person, or religion or group. It is about spreading a message of kindness, generosity, non-violence and peace,” Mr Khorana said.

Alterations would be needed inside and in time some of the more colourful and fantastic symbolism that adorns temples in India could be added to the exterior.

Supporters have formed the Vedic Cultural Society of East Anglia and are applying for charity status to help with funding and to reinforce their benevolent aims. They hope also to amass a library of Hindu scripture, currently only available in London.

An estimated 20 to 30 people are expected to gather on weekdays, 60-80 for weekend functions and up to 100 for Diwali, the Hindu festival of light.

Halvergate Parish Council said it was in favour of the change of use but has concerns regarding the road safety aspects.

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