‘It is such an eyesore’: Council set to buy tumbledown building that blights North Walsham
A tumbledown, filthy, pigeon roost which has blighted North Walsham town centre for some six years may be compulsorily purchased by frustrated councillors.
A recommendation to Monday's North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) cabinet calls for the move if 4 and 4a Market Street are not satisfactorily developed within a set time.
Cabinet members are also set to recommend putting �46,000 into a near-�100,000 pot for Market Place improvements aimed at ending long-standing headaches as buses queue at stops, motorists wait to pounce on empty parking slots and shoppers try and dodge both hazards.
Once a characterful printer's works and later a shop, the Grade Two-listed Market Street building, in the heart of the town's Conservation Area, has degenerated into one of North Walsham's most embarrassing eyesores.
Cabinet member Trevor Ivory, who lives in the town, said the council still hoped the owner would come forward with an acceptable plan for the site but it was not prepared to allow further 'endless delays'.
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A draft scheme for a mixture of shops and homes had been agreed in principle with the council's conservation and design officer.
NNDC had bent over backwards to try and help the owner, including opening new public toilets in Vicarage Street enabling the old block behind 4 Market Street to close so that the area could potentially form part of the site redevelopment.
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But Mr Ivory said: 'At the moment we are not in a position where we have confidence that there is a viable scheme for that site.
'Compulsory purchase is a measure of last resort. Complicated as it may be, we are ready to take this step in order to get things moving. It's a key gateway into the town which is such an eyesore that it detracts from the whole feel of North Walsham as an attractive shopping destination.'
The building's owner, Mark Tentori, who does not live in Norfolk, could not be contacted.
Meanwhile NNDC hopes its �46,000 contribution, coupled with �50,000 Norfolk County Council cash, would see the start of Market Place improvements by next April.
The NNDC money would come out of a pot set aside for the town's Leadership of Place programme, which sees representatives from local organisations working on improvement schemes.
The Market Place measures have been agreed between the town, district and county councils, and North Walsham Chamber of Trade.
First in place, before April, would be signs indicating to motorists where the town's car parks are situated.
And in 2013-2014 the current parking slots would be replaced with angled bays, pavements widened, and 'raised tables' introduced to help pedestrians cross at key locations.
A spokesman said both elements would need further consultation so the detail might change slightly.