‘Vibrant and forward-looking’ - owners unveil vision to transform derelict seafront hotel in Sheringham
Lucas Hickman Smith
New plans have been unveiled to transform a derelict hotel at the centre of the seafront in one of north Norfolk’s holiday hotspots into a “vibrant, forward-looking building”.
Ground floor retail units, a first-floor restaurant and residential apartments on the upper floors are included in Huddies Ltd’s vision for the redevelopment of the former Shannocks Hotel in Sheringham.
Developed by the Beeston Regis-based company which owns the property, with the support of Norwich-based surveyors Daniel Connal Partnership and Wymondham architects Lucas Hickman Smith Ltd, the proposals for the High Street site include the demolition of the current building amid concerns it has become a blight on the local landscape.
In a statement issued by Huddies Ltd, a spokesperson said: “We believe the application proposes a vibrant, forward-looking new building, of high architectural quality and demonstrating a clear architectural link to Sheringham’s heritage and its immediate context.
“This exciting project will enhance the conservation area, positively contribute to its built context, and provide a suitably lively and animated focus at the heart of the seafront.
“The inclusion of the restaurant illustrates the company’s policy that local life should be enhanced by the proposed development, and in particular that the wider community should have the opportunity to enjoy the expansive views over the promenade, the beach and the sea that are offered by the site’s location.”
The plans have been submitted to North Norfolk District Council as the local authority prepares to ask councillors to approve plans to set aside almost £500,000 of its budget to compulsory purchase the site for an alternative development.
However, Huddies Ltd, which lists Andrew Roper as its sole director, has urged it to rethink its proposals in light of its application.
The spokesperson for the firm continued: “At a time when the council is having to sell off its assets, putting very large sums of public money at risk would not be in the interests of local ratepayers, and we hope that the £490,000 recently allocated to fund a CPO will be redirected to meet the district’s needs elsewhere.
“The council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for legal services Judy Oliver recently admitted that the compulsory purchase alone could delay redevelopment for up to 18 months. Since we expect to complete redevelopment in this time, committing further public funds to compulsory acquisition is plainly irrational.”
Huddies Ltd revealed it had considered retaining and renovating the current building. But, it stated, the costs involved would “detrimentally impact upon the viability of the scheme”.
The Huddies spokesperson explained: “Whilst some parts of the building are relatively old, it has been extensively altered in recent years and attempts no architectural connection with Sheringham. The existing building’s unsympathetic architecture and prohibitive spatial features would always significantly impede the use of a renovated building.
“Retention and renovation of existing buildings is not always an option, and the professional and expert opinion received by the company is that this cannot be justified, and would detrimentally impact upon the viability of the scheme.
“In addition, the existing building’s solid wall construction precludes most forms of thermal insulation and, together with a permeable external skin, has meant that the building has been unable to resist salt spray in its exposed location, leading to significant damp problems.
“The company’s objective of achieving a high level of thermal and environmental performance from the building can only be achieved through demolition and redevelopment.”
If the plans are approved, it is hoped work could start before the end of the year.
However, the developers, who bought the site in late 2010, have agreed to complete the works outwith high season.
The Huddies spokesperson added: “The site is significant in the context of Sheringham and North Norfolk, and the company is fully committed to providing this positive, contemporary addition to the town, which it fully expects will benefit the local community - providing employment in the ground and first floor commercial spaces, improving the commercial viability of the high street, attracting visitors to the town and presenting a bright, optimistic and forward-looking vision for the seafront and the town.
The council earlier this month revealed it could stop the compulsory purchase order at any time if the current site owners were seen to be taking action to tidy up the area.
However, while the site remains unoccupied, the local authority revealed it could prevent development elsewhere in the town.
Speaking at the time, district council leader Tom FitzPatrick added: “We’re prepared, if necessary, to go as far as compulsory purchase.”