Saturday, 27 February 2016

National Winter Ales Festival heads to Norwich for next three years.

Norwich has been named as the new venue for the Campaign For Real Ale's high profile National Winter Ale Festival.

After three successful years, organisers in Derby will be handing on the honour of hosting the national event, where the winner of the Winter Champion Beer of Britain is judged each year.

The event brings many thousands of visitors to the host city - keen to try hundreds of the best winter beers from across the UK.

NWAF will be moving to Norwich for the next three years, using St. Andrew's & Blackfriars' Halls (The Halls), which are currently home to the CAMRA Norwich Beer Festival; it is a beautiful venue with picturesque paintings dating from the 16th century of mayors, sheriffs and benefactors from the city forming part of the civic portrait collection.

Gillian Hough, festival organiser, said “The National Winter Ales Festival has been an honour for Derby to host and we wish Norwich well with the unique roller coaster which comes with organising a National Festival.”

The dates for the NWAF 2017 are 22nd–25th February.

Norwich and Norfolk Branch Chairman, Warren Wordsworth, commented: "This is a great honour and I am delighted that Norwich has been awarded as host such to a prestigious National CAMRA for the next three years.

"It will be a big boost for Norwich and hopefully it will add a lot to the local economy especially for the local brewers, pubs, hotels and Bed & Breakfasts in the locality and cement Norwich well and truly as a 'City of Ale'. I look forward to this festival coming to Norwich next year."

There was also a positive responce from our Branch Secretary and NWAF Organiser elect, Rob Whitmore, who was volunteering in Derby at NWAF 2016 and accepted the baton on behalf of Norwich and indeed CAMRA locally: "Today at the first day of the CAMRA NWAF in Derby, the baton to host this prestigious event was officially passed to Norwich!  The venue of choice will be of course the iconic medieval halls complex in Norwich, St Andrew's and Blackfriars' Halls and will be held in February for the following three years.

"It's a great honour to take this national event on and we hope this help cement Norwich as the UK's City of Ale.  Let's make this a great event for brewers, publicans and of course lovers of real ale from around the UK and maybe even the world!"

The Owl Sanctuary awarded Asset of Community Value status

The Norwich and Norfolk branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) received the good news  on 4th February 2016 that The Owl Sanctuary, Cattle Market Street, in Norwich, has been successfully listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) by Norwich City Council.

Neil Bowers, Pubs Protection Officer for the branch, said “We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone (2,500 people) who submitted an application for the pub to be listed. This took everyone within the branch by surprise and it was, and still remains, an unprecedented number. So from the branch we thank you for your support and hope you continue to support The Owl Sanctuary and the pubs within Norwich and the surrounding area".

There has been a pub on this site serving the community since 1845. Originally the brewers Steward, Patteson Finch & Co owned the pub but since 1945, the pub has been known under different names including The One and Only and Marquee at the Shirehall and then under the name The Owl Sanctuary from March 2014.

Since refurbishment and re-opening in 2014, The Owl Sanctuary developed a big following in the music scene and was supported by the huge number of people who either contacted the local CAMRA branch or Norwich City Council once the sale of the building and the closure of the pub as The Owl Sanctuary was announced, as a pub and a unique venue with an impressive list of genuine touring bands from around the world visiting.

As soon as a pub is nominated as an ACV, the owner must obtain planning permission to change it to any other use, or for instance, demolish it. Also if they want to sell the pub to anyone who wants to use it as anything other than a pub, e.g. Tesco or the Co-Op, the community will be given the chance to find someone to buy it as a pub.

The removal of permitted development rights is considered by CAMRA as vital to protect the future of public houses in the light of around 29 pubs closing a week.

The Norwich and Norfolk branch of CAMRA have been focusing on ACVs in the last year and has successfully had ACVs granted by the respective council on over thirty pubs in the branch area such as the King Edward VII, Number 12 and Kimberley Arms in Norwich, the Nelson Head, Horsey and recently in Norwich, The Gatehouse on Dereham Road.

Also parish councils and community groups can nominate pubs for an ACV with such success as the Marlpit in Costessey and Blofield’s Kings Head.