Norman King’s reign ends after campaign disappointment

The Norman King
The Norman King

A last ditch effort to halt the demolition of the Norman King has failed.

After unsuccessfully demonstrating against plans to convert the site into hotel rooms, the Save The Norman King campaign group submitted an application to have the Kingsway pub’s remains listed as an asset of community value.

The Norman King before the fire

The Norman King before the fire

If successful this designation would have placed a six month moratorium on the property, preventing its sale before the community had a chance to prepare a bid to buy it.

Although there are no plans for the sale or purchase of the site from either side, Save The Norman King lodged the application in the hope that it would assist attempts to restore the site to its former glory.

However, Central Beds Council has rejected the bid.

In a letter to campaign leader Andrea Tompkins, the council’s head of community engagement, Peter Fraser, said that the site did not meet the required criteria of the Localism Act 2011.

He wrote: “The asset has not furthered the social wellbeing or social interest of the local community in the recent past; and it is not realistic to think that there can continue to be non-ancillary use of the building which will further the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community in the next five years.”

He added: “In taking this decision the council also considered the validity of the nominating organisation, the location of the asset, information contained in the nomination form and the written response from the asset owner.”

Andrea Tompkins told the Gazette of her disappointment over the decision.

She said: “It was the least they could have done really.

“Without the status you could still restore the site, but the problem is that it undermines the importance of the issue if the council are not with you.

“I can’t believe we have got this far and they are just going to walk away from it.”

The Norman King, believed to be on the site of a royal hunting lodge built by King Henry I in about 1120, was attacked by an arsonist in August 2011.

A year later it was delisted by English Heritage, which cited “irrecoverable damage“ to the historic pub.

In August CBC agreed to plans lodgedby owner Martyn Murphy for the demolition of the remaining structure and the erection of an extension to the Old Palace Lodge Hotel.