ST GEORGE`S Day on-trade champion Tony Bennett is planning a major £1.5m private hotel scheme on the site of his pub, the Firs in Norwich.
Bennett hopes to join forces with his landlords, Enterprise Inns, to create a 30-bedroom development on land adjacent to the Firs, which sits just 300 yards from Norwich International Airport.
If the scheme goes ahead it will be one of the biggest pub developments ever carried by Enterprise in a joint lessee-pubco investment project.
He plans to capitalise on major expansion of the airport which could soon have a new helipad servicing the North Sea oil rigs.
Bennett says he believes the site is ideally placed to take advantage of major business opportunities in the area, which also includes large housing and industrial estates.
"Enterprise and I firmly believe there is major potential for the site, with a hotel being the ideal option.
"It`s a prime location that lends itself to hotel accommodation, which is still a scarce commodity in the area despite a number of other hotels opened in recent years," Bennett said.
Bennett and Enterprise are due to meet council planners within the next few weeks to begin negotiations on details of the scheme.
"The Firs, like many other pubs, needs a new income stream especially with wet trade falling and food a very competitive market these days.
"All our research points to a healthy demand for letting accommodation targeting a number of different markets," he said.
Bennett was the former manager of the Otter in nearby Thorpe Marriott, where he led a high-profile campaign to get St George`s Day recognised as a national holiday.