'Unviable' Upwell pub set for new lease of life as holiday let
A Fenland village pub that was losing money before the pandemic hit last year looks set to remain permanently closed and given a new lease of life as a holiday let.
Christopher Robinson and James Brighty who own the Five Bells in Upwell are looking to West Norfolk Borough Council for planning permission to "formalise" the historic building's use as a holiday let for up to 20 people.
It was used as such last summer, while holidays were still permissable under the covid rules, and the owners say it proved a hit with people wanting to stay there.
A business plan submitted in support of the proposal points out the pub, which has been owned by Mr Robinson and Mr Brighty since 2014 and was given a substantial refurbishment before they re-opened it for business in 2015, has suffered "declining profitability" for several years.
It closed in March last year, after recording an "unsustainable loss" of over £30,000 the previous year, which the business statement says is when the owners decided to use the building as a unique holiday let.
The pub, which dates back as an inn since at least 1777, has nine bedrooms which can accommodate up to 20 people.
"It is typically rented to a family for family parties or to a group of friends for a long weekend.
"As the building sleeps up to 20 people it is perfect for large groups and there are few other holiday lets that can accommodate this many people in one building and as such it is in great demand or was before Covid 19 led to its temporary closure in Summer 2020," says the business plan.
It adds that as the owners have already bought the building and spent many thousands of pounds on the upgrade - including to the on-site accommodation - there is a "pressing financial and operational need to regularise the new use and start generating income to cover the investment."
No additional investment is needed to accommodate the new use as all of the bedrooms are already in place and the business plan says Sykes Cottages as part of their service project that the premises will be let through them approximately 28 times in a typical calendar year and that gross income will be £100,000+.
The Five Bells, which boasts 10 bathrooms and a hot tub, is also on other sites including Air BnB and Expedia and can cost between £2,800 and £7,700 for a week on the Sykes Cottages site.