More flats above shops in King’s Lynn could be turned into homes

King's Lynn Civic Society is stepping up its campaign to get empty town centre properties brought back into use.

It says doing so would mean less need to build on green spaces on the outskirts of town.

West Norfolk Council's empty homes officer Clare Hanna has been contacting landlords of empty houses and flats above shops and trying to persuade them to rent them out, if necessary after refurbishment.

West Norfolk is trying to find 20 properties that can be brought back into use in this way. Freebridge Community Housing has secured a grant to pay for repairs where needed.

Officials will advise owners on the benefits of bringing long term empty properties back into use. This includes advice on letting, selling or securing an income from their property.

The Civic Society estimates there is space for more than 50 new flats in the High Street alone.

Its assistant secretary Ken Hill said: 'Lynn needs new homes for its population. Lynn has empty buildings that could be brought into use quickly for them. The town centre would benefit, the landlords would benefit, local people who need a place to live would benefit.'

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Some High Street upper floors are already being used for housing – notably near Saturday Market Place, where developer James Lee has been renovating shops and providing living accommodation above them.

'When I renovate a shop or office I always put a couple of flats into the upper floors,' said Mr Lee. 'Space not used is a wasted asset.

'Not only does it bring in rent, but the shop is more secure and costs less to heat in the winter.'