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Wisbech town centre pub could become shop units if planning is approved

A town centre pub has served its last orders and is now looking for a new lease of life as shops - if current owners can gain the necessary planning permission.

The Rift Bar - formerly The Case in the Horsefair in Wisbech - has been closed for over six months and the owners say it will not re-open.

Andrew Bennet of ARB Commercial Enterprises Ltd has applied to Fenland District Council for permission to convert the premises into mixed use comprising three retail units involving the installation of three shopfronts to the front and rear of the groundfloor with existing office/residential use on the first floor.

The former Rift Bar in Horsefair, Wisbech is set to become shop units. (21614283)
The former Rift Bar in Horsefair, Wisbech is set to become shop units. (21614283)

A heritage statement drawn up by ATP Architects and Surveyors Ltd submitted with the application explains the change of use is necessary to improve the chances of securing an operator for "this long term vacant unit".

It adds: "The impact on the appearance of the building and its surrounding is minimal. The proposed site located in a mixed commercial area and the minor changes to appearance of the building would not affect any historical significance."

The building was converted into a family pub restaurant 13 years ago having previously been owned by the NHS and was home to the Horse Fair Clinic.

The heritage statement concludes: "The proposals respect the nature and character of the building. The proposal is not considered to conflict with Fenland District Council planning policy. The proposal will provide an opportunity that will be assured for the long-term benefit of its users.

"We consider that in the context of Wisbech the proposed change of use represents a small change but will have an overall positive impact to the Town Centre.

"The proposed change of use will contribute positively towards the day time and evening economy, employment, the appearance of the site and also enable the re-use of this vacant unit."

A design and access statement also drawn up by ATP adds the client has decided that having previously failed as a business the overall property would benefit from retail use.

It explains there will be no significant modifications or alterations. Ne partition walls will be constructed to create the three units which will also include installing three shopfronts. But no work will be needed to the first floor.

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