It should have been sorted by Christmas, now Easter’s looming and North Walsham eyesore is still a shambles

4a Market Street in North Walsham - March 2016.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

4a Market Street in North Walsham - March 2016.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

An embarrassing eyesore in North Walsham town centre which was due to be transformed by Christmas is still a mess, with Easter just around the corner.

An artist's impression of the landscaped area at 4a Market Street, North Walsham

An artist's impression of the landscaped area at 4a Market Street, North Walsham - Credit: Archant

Council chiefs say drainage problems and waiting for gas and electricity contractors are causing continuing delays at the site of the former 4a Market Street shop.

But North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) member Virginia Gay, who represents the area, said she was given a different explanation when she asked why the work was not progressing.

The £66,000 project, which began in early November, involves paving the area and planting two lime trees in a middle section surrounded by York stone. It will also feature three street lamps.

The early 19th-century building, which is at North Walsham's prominent western gateway, was finally demolished in 2014 after standing empty, rubbish-filled and spattered with pigeon droppings for at least a decade.

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After an initial flurry of landscaping activity on the site, work seemed to stop at about Christmas time when NNDC blamed delivery delays. This week an NNDC spokesman said extra drainage requirements which were not anticipated at the start of the work were causing the hold-up.

The council was also waiting for the gas main under the site to be disconnected and for UK Power Networks to provide the new supply for the lighting.

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'A request was made by the contractors for the National Grid to excavate and disconnect the gas main underneath the site at the end of January,' said an NNDC spokesman.

A National Grid spokesman said their work would be carried out on March 7 and should only take a morning.

A UK Power Networks spokesman said: 'At this stage we are not aware of any outstanding requests for an electricity connection at this site but we are investigating this further.'

However, the NNDC spokesman said the electricity supply work was also due to take place next week. Mrs Gay said she was puzzled at the explanation given to the News by NNDC as she had written to officers asking for an update in late January.

'I was told it would be complete by early February and that the difficulties were because York stone took longer to lay.

'I'm disappointed - this gets curiouser and curiouser,' she added.

John Rest, NNDC cabinet member for assets, said they were confident that the project would be finished 'in the coming weeks.'

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