A BUDGET pub chain known for its cheap booze is set to launch a new premises in Thetford.
National chain JD Wetherspoon is set to revamp the Grade II listed Red Lion in the town’s market square, creating up to 45 jobs.
A spokesman for the chain said the £1.2 million redevelopment ended years of searching for a pub in Thetford.
“The Red Lion is a great building in an excellent location. The fact that it is Grade II listed is appealing, too, because Wetherspoon has great experience of redeveloping listed buildings into pubs,” he said.
Wetherspoon must now await planning approval for the pub, but expects to employ between 40 and 45 new staff, according to the spokesman.
Derek Mortimer, mayor of Thetford, said the news could be the start of the regeneration of Thetford’s town centre.
“It will instil some life, activity and footfall in the market square which can only be a good thing.
“This kind of thing can have a knock-on effect for other traders because it will bring additional people to the town centre in the evenings,” he said.
Cllr Mortimer said Susan Glossop, town manager, had been working with Wetherspoons for almost two years to bring about the project.
Improvements to the 174-year-old pub were also of great benefit to the town, according to Cllr Mortimer.
“Lots of tenants have gone in there with big ideas, but it takes an organisation of this size to really do anything with the place because it’s so expensive,”” he said.
The Bury Free Press spoke to several tenants and landlords in the town centre, getting a mixed reaction to the news.
Amanda Middlebrook, licensee at The Albion, said they would have to ‘wait and see’ what impact the budget chain would have.
“It’s a concern but we are quite lucky to have good regulars here. People might go and have a look but I think it’s a different atmosphere in there than a traditional pub,” she said.
Anne-Marie Gosling, an employee at the King’s Head, said: “I think it’s good for the town because it gives people more to do. Hopefully people will stop in here after going in Wetherspoons.”