Hopes for fire-ravaged old arcade in Wells to be re-developed

Planning applications have been submitted this week to redevelop an eyesore site which has scarred Wells seafront for more than six years.

The Gray's Arcade building and adjoining shop, Gifts Galore, on The Quay, were completed gutted by fire in January 2005 and ever been in a derelict burned out condition ever since.

This has been a constant source of frustration for residents of and visitors to the town and North Norfolk District Council has for several months been considering making a compulsory purchase order for the first time in its history.

But this week, the owner of Gifts Galore has submitted applications to the council to knock down the shop and turn it into a cafe and three flats.

A separate application has been submitted by Novus Homes (Norfolk) Ltd to knock down and redevelop the Gray's Arcade site as three shops on the ground floor with nine luxury flats above.

Chris Wells, director of Novus Homes (Norfolk) Ltd said: 'We have entered into an agreement in principle to purchase the site with a view to re-development, and with this in mind we appointed local award-winning architects Stead Mutton Griggs to design a scheme.

'We are acutely aware of the importance of the location and the need to generate a design to enhance the Wells seafront.

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'Although our involvement in the site dates back only a matter of two months, we have been mindful of the length of time the property has stood awaiting replacement and accordingly the architects were tasked to produce an outstanding design as quickly as practicable, bearing in mind the complexity of the site and its associated issues.

'Together with our other consultants they have developed an excellent design, working in harmony with planning officers at North Norfolk District Council, who have been helpful and constructive.

'The resulting design incorporates retail accommodation at ground floor, which we hope will help restore the activity and interest to the seafront, with high quality apartments built above.

'The design and materials proposed have been devised to be sympathetic to local buildings and construction materials, and to comply with the Code for Sustainable Homes.

'We are particularly grateful to Stead Mutton Griggs for their exceptional achievement in producing such a high quality design and in sufficient time that the planning application can be considered in parallel with that very recently submitted in respect of the adjoining building.

'We are confident that there is now an opportunity to restore the seafront at this special location to a high standard for the benefit of the town and its visitors.'

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