Bid to convert 150-year-old pub into convenience store

A planning application could see The Albion, a 150-year-old pub in Gorleston, converted into a convenience store.

A planning application could see The Albion, a 150-year-old pub in Gorleston, converted into a convenience store. - Credit: Google Maps

A 150-year-old pub on the coast could be converted into a convenience store after trade there was deemed "unviable".

The Albion, at the corner of Lowestoft Road and Lower Cliff Road in Gorleston, has been licenced since at least 1884 but in recent years has seen a decline in sales.

And while the venue its planning to open next month subject to government regulations, its current owners, Punch Partnerships, have applied to Great Yarmouth Borough Council to change the use of the existing premises to retail store, as well building as an extension to the rear.

Albion pub Gorleston

The Albion pub in Gorleston had been suffering a decline in sales even before the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report by real estate company Savills. - Credit: Google Maps

The venue is a detached two-storey building sitting in a mostly residential area, with some business and retail including a Chinese takeaway, convenience store and bike shop nearby.

A document supporting the application states the location of the proposed shop would "encourage residents to shop locally and reduce the need to travel to out-of-town supermarkets", as the area is "poorly served by convenience stores".

It also says the property is "unattractive and in a state of disrepair".

While the pub employs five full-time staff, the convenience store would have three full-time and 17 part-time workers.

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A carpark would provide 19 spaces.

The application also includes a report by a surveyor from real estate company Savills into the viability of the pub, which notes the general trend at the venue, which relies heavily on local regulars, has been declining trade.

"Businesses such as the one run at the Albion have been unable to compete in the current market due to the lack of a food offering and declining wet sales," the surveyor says.

"Business has been struggling for some time."

It says the pub has an "extremely small kitchen" and it would take "a leap of faith" from an operator to create a viable food service.

The report concludes that the Albion would struggle to attract additional trade, even if refurbished, and that it was not viable as a business in both the short and the long term.

The applicant states that the loss of the pub would not be an issue as there are 12 other pubs within an 800-metre radius of the site.

A decision is expected by April 21.

Punch Partnerships managing director Andy Spencer said: “We are in regular communication with our Publican, and we are working together positively and supporting him during this period.

"The Albion will reopen outdoors in April subject to government guidelines."