Councillors agree on action to tackle Fakenham “eyesores”

Enforcement action has been approved by councillors to improve two Fakenham properties which have become 'eyesores' on one of the main roads into the town.

Members of the North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) cabinet debated yesterday about how to deal with the 400-year-old structurally unsound outbuildings at Star Yard.

They also discussed nearby 57 Oak Street, a former flower shop and paints store, which has been derelict for more than 20 years.

The recommendations to cabinet included allowing NNDC officers to make an offer to buy the buildings; carry out minor works to prevent further deterioration; and put them on the market for sale or redevelopment.

If the council cannot reach an agreement regarding a sale with the owner of the buildings by the end of this month enforcement action will be taken against the owner to improve the buildings.

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Mr B Wright, who owns both buildings, said: 'I understand it is an eyesore. My long-term hope would be to open the shop (57 Oak Street) as an antiques store.'

Trevor Ivory, ward councillor for Scottow, said both the outbuildings and 57 Oak Street have been an issue for many years and several Fakenham residents have raised concerns.

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Speaking about the Star Yard buildings, he said: 'The key concern is that the properties are structurally unsound.

'We don't have a lot of time to deal with this problem. It is an imminent danger to the properties and their neighbours.'

He added NNDC would like to work with Mr Wright to secure the 'integrity' of the buildings.

Mr Wright told councillors he could get the work on both the Star Yard and Oak Street properties completed in six months.

But Mr Ivory said that offer was not 'realistic' because of the 'imminent threat' of the Star Yard outbuildings.

'We need to move quickly. We need to leave the recommendations as they are,' he added.

NNDC officers have met Mr Wright and undertaken regular inspections of the buildings since summer 2010.

They have encouraged him to sell the buildings so they can be redeveloped, but without success.

Roy Reynolds, ward councillor for Lancaster North, said 57 Oak Street was a 'horrendous blot' on the character and landscape of the well-used street, which features Victorian terraced houses.

Mr Reynolds added: 'Oak Street has many shops but over the last 20 years it has been allowed to deteriorate.

'The deterioration has become unacceptable to the people of Fakenham and the town council.'

He said the Oak Street and Star Yard buildings should not be treated in isolation and urged the council to look at other derelict buildings in the district.

Annie Claussen-Reynolds, ward councillor for Lancaster North, said: 'It is such a dreadful shame these buildings have been allowed to get into this state.

'With another winter looming they could deteriorate beyond repair.'

An offer for both buildings from NNDC would be made upon advice from a district valuer.

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