Surprise 11th-hour offer on Stalham old Station Yard site


Stalham Library.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

An 11th-hour deal on offer to Stalham could mean a compromise solution to the long-running problem of the old Station Yard site.

Stalham old Station Yard site. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Stalham old Station Yard site. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Site owner Norfolk County Council has suggested that a joint library and community hub could be developed in a building run by Stalham Town Council.

If accepted by the town, the county would build homes on the old Station Yard land, selling or letting them, and putting some of the proceeds back into the community building.

If rejected, the land would be put on the open market.

The town council had been given until the end of this month to decide whether it would buy the site for £250,000. The cash-strapped county needs cash to replenish its coffers and was otherwise expected to sell to the highest bidder.

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The 1.55-acre plot, between the west end of High Street and the A149, has been derelict for more than a decade.

The new offer emerged after a recent meeting between representatives from the town council and NPS, the county's land agent.

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Chairman Duncan Edmonds read out an email from NPS, outlining the deal, at Stalham Town Council's meeting this week.

Members agreed to discuss it in detail at a special council meeting in Stalham Town Hall next Monday, October 21 at 7.30pm.

'I do think we should give this option serious consideration,' said Dr Edmonds. Nigel Dixon, county councillor for Stalham, warned that if the land was sold to a commercial developer, it might be land-banked and lie dormant for more years, or be developed with high-density housing.

Speaking to the News, county councillor Steve Morphew, whose cabinet responsibilities include finance and corporate matters, said the county was 'categorically not suggesting' that Stalham Library, which adjoins the old Station Yard site, could be run by volunteers.

'We are not proposing to pull out of library provision in Stalham. Nothing could be further from the truth. I hope that's clear and unequivocal,' he added.

The idea was that the building containing the library could be run by the town council. It could be an extended building - incorporating new community facilities - or a new-build.

Mr Morphew added that ideas were all at a 'very preliminary stage' and no details had been worked out.

The county had previously built homes itself in Great Yarmouth. The advantages were that doing so generated cash, more badly-needed housing, and created jobs.

He added: 'We know the town council had ambitions for the site but didn't get money for it. We are trying to look at both budget issues and how we can use the land for community benefits.'

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