Fresh hope that The Crown Hotel in Fakenham will be sold

A mystery figure is showing a strong interest in buying The Crown Hotel in Fakenham, which was once valued at �1m but is now up for sale for just �325,000.

London-based estate agents Currell Commercial is trying the sell of the 17th century 11-bedroom hotel, which has been empty for three-and-a-half years.

Beverly Hedge, manager at Currell Commercial, said: 'We have had The Crown for a few weeks and we have had a couple of offers, including one from a person who is showing particularly strong interest in buying the hotel.'

Due to client confidentiality Ms Hedge is unable to reveal details of potential buyers.

The Crown has been a forlorn site in Fakenham's Market Place since its closure in March 2009.

Its derelict state is a major source of frustration and is seen to bring down the entire image of the town.

Flood damage caused by a burst pipe last winter has made the sale more difficult.

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Ms Hedge said: 'The Crown will need a lot of work done to it, so the price has to reflect that.'

She added: 'The market is typically slow at this time of year so it is good that we have this strong interest from a potential buyer, but I would expect the market to pick up later in the year and for there to be more interest.'

Rector of Fakenham, Rev Adrian Bell, said: 'I remember when The Crown was valued at �1m so it seems now that it is at the lowest rate it could be; it is the price you would pay for a three-bedroom house around here.

'It may need a lot of work but �325,000 is not a lot of money for all this land in the centre of Fakenham.

'It would be great if someone could take that place on and give the town a boost.'

Steve Hall, co-founder of the Fakenham Area Business Community (FABCOM), said: 'The Crown is a focal point of the whole town and it would be great if someone is able to get it open again.

'It could make Fakenham a more attractive place for future investment and improve things for businesses in Fakenham.'

Wells Deli was at one point in negotiations over buying The Crown, but that deal fell through after Wildmoor Properties, which owned the hotel, went into administration.

Wells Deli owner, Matthew Turner, said: 'At this point we are not involved in any talks about taking on The Crown but that may change if the estate agents struggle to sell.'