Bid to prevent more boarded up buildings in Yarmouth
PUBLISHED: 10:19 12 October 2012
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2012
A RESCUE bid to stop two historic town centre buildings from becoming boarded up eyesores costing the taxpayer £130,000 per year has begun.
The old fire and police station and neighbouring Trafalgar House, in Hall Plain, are being eyed as social housing by council chiefs.
Around 60 council staff currently work in the buildings, but they are set to relocate to the newly renovated town hall from Monday.
Both council-owned buildings will be empty by the end of November, with security and maintenance costs set to run to £130,000 per year until a new owner is found.
Council leader Trevor Wainwright says there has been little appetite for anybody to buy the buildings, so they are investigating handing them to a housing association free of charge.
And while critics say it is wrong for public assets to be given away, Mr Wainwright says it is the most sensible solution.
“The old fire station and Trafalgar House are being looked at for possible housing association accommodation,” he confirmed. “We’re doing a feasibility study - it will take three months and we’re about one month in.
“The idea of refurbishing the town hall was to move staff to it.
“If nothing happens to Trafalgar House and the old fire station it will cost in excess of £100,000 per year for security and maintenance.”
Trafalgar House is thought to have been built circa 1938 as a municipal building, and has a terracotta frontage characteristic of Yarmouth - seen on other buildings including the Hippodrome Circus.
The old fire and police station predates this, and was remodelled in 1912 by renowned architect John Cockrill - who also designed Great Yarmouth School of Art.
Neither building is listed.
Mr Wainwright said he hoped the exterior look of the buildings could be maintained, but precise details would be for the housing association and their possible developer.
“We would be looking at some social housing and affordable housing,” he added. “Once the housing association has decided it’s a runner it would then go through the planning process.
“We have had valuers looking at the buildings and they’ve said there’s very little commercial value - and £130,000 is a lot of money for boarded up buildings.”
The move follows attempts to revive the derelict former Two Bears Hotel, which was earmarked as a homeless hostel before the YMCA pulled the plug on plans.