New moves to tackle long-term eyesores in Fakenham
11:14 03 January 2013
Enforcement action could be approved on Monday to improve the condition of two rotting long-term eyesores in the heart of Fakenham.
The state of a former flower shop and paints store at 57 Oak Street, which has been derelict for more than 20 years, and some outbuildings, believed to be about 400 years old, a few metres away at Star Yard have been a long-running source of frustration.
North Norfolk District Council officers have met the owner of the two properties and undertaken regular inspections of them since summer 2010. They have encouraged the owner to sell the buildings so they can be redeveloped, but without success. The issue will be discussed by the council cabinet on Monday.
A report to councillors recommends authorising council officers to make an offer to purchase the buildings.
Council leader Tom FitzPatrick said the size of any bid would be confidential and would be done “in conjunction with the district valuer”.
The council would then look to undertake a programme of minor works to prevent further deterioration of the buildings and sell them on.
The report recommends that if officers cannot reach an agreement with the owner by the end of January, enforcement action should be taken.
Mr FitzPatrick said this could include serving the owner with repairs notices or the council carrying out repairs and billing the owner for the work.
This could potentially lead to the council bringing about its first Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO), but Mr FitzPatrick said this would be a last resort. A CPO would give it a legal right to obtain the properties but the process is expensive and takes a long time to be carried out.
Mr FitzPatrick added: “There are local concerns about the condition of the properties. The buildings at Star Yard need structural work.
“There is not a structural issue with 57 Oak Street, but it has been empty for some time. The plan is that we would do it up and move it on.
“We want to prevent the buildings getting beyond repair. It is an important route into the centre of Fakenham.”
Former district councillor Dawn Wakefield, who lives in Star Yard, organised a petition in 2011 calling for action on the buildings. She said: “It has taken such a long time to get anything done on these eyesores so it is very encouraging to hear that things might be moving forward.”
The report also recommends that, whatever decision is taken, the council organises a public meeting to inform the local community of its proposed actions.
Meanwhile,Flying Kiwi Inns, the company headed by chef Chris Coubrough, has denied rumours that it has bought The Crown Hotel in Fakenham.
We reported last month that The Crown had finally been sold after being closed for more than three-and- a-half years.
The new owner has not yet gone public with his or her intentions for the building.