At risk Stalham businesses saved from demolition under gentleman’s agreement

The site in Stalham where eight new homes could be built.

The site in Stalham where eight new homes could be built.

Almost a dozen jobs have been saved from uncertainty as a 'gentleman's agreement' has put plans for new housing on Stalham High Street on hold.

Last week North Norfolk District Council's development committee moved to defer plans to build eight homes, demolishing five local businesses in the process.

The project would have seen homes built on the sites of Havers Tyres, Stalham Car Sales, G&M Motors, a storage unit for Century Printing, and a car wash.

Now a deal has been made between Havers Tyres and the landowner, Graham Matheson, to buy a portion of the land covering the existing businesses to afford them some protection.

A spokesman for Havers Tyres said: 'We have made an agreement with Graham to purchase a large percentage of the whole area, which means all the local businesses will remain.

'Whether Graham gets planning permission or not is irrelevant, because we will likely own three quarters of the whole area he was planning to build houses on.'

The spokesman added they had paid 'over the odds' for the land in an undisclosed fee.

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'That means we have secured the business and kept other people in their jobs,' they said. 'It is the principle of keeping 11 people in work. 'It secures Havers as a business and keeps the local community happy, so it's a win - win situation all round as far as I am concerned. 'We have secured what we wanted to secure and at least 11 people will not be out of work.

'He is retaining three small industrial units on one side but we are buying everything else which was originally up for offer. He also owns all the terraced houses that adjoin it all.

'We also want to thank the local community for their support.'

Mr Matheson said he had not expected to meet the scale of opposition from the plan to build homes on the site.

'Havers came to me with a proposal which seemed to make quite a lot of sense and would sort a lot of the situation out,' he said.

'We have known each other for over 20 years, and they came up with a pretty generous offer, and we negotiated a deal.

'I am 70 next year and I have owned that land for around 35 years. I just wanted to pack it in. This is just a very good solution. Really it was their generosity that pushed it along. 'If we enact the planning permission we would do that together at some future date.'

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