Plans to convert Yarmouth hotels into luxury flats

Empty hotels that blight an area of Yarmouth are to be transformed into luxury flats aimed at high-earning Norwich commuters.

Empty hotels that blight an area of Yarmouth are to be transformed into luxury flats aimed at high-earning Norwich commuters.

Compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) served on eight of the boarded-up hotels by the borough council yesterday looked set to ensure that Wellesley and Paget Roads, which are also home to some of Yarmouth's most respected guest houses, are turned into one of the town's most desirable spots.

The orders add muscle to negotiations between landlords and organisers of the council's pioneering Sharp scheme which aims to get the hotels converted.

The project, which is granting £4.42m in incentives to developers to renovate 15 deserted hotels, hope that by giving the area a facelift the tourist and hotel trade will be given a lift too.

The roads were once among the finest in Yarmouth with grand Victorian manors used as luxurious hotels but as the tourism industry declined many of the buildings fell into disrepair with others converted into bedsits used to house asylum seekers.

Now the Sharp scheme aims to attract more affluent people to the area again, which they predict will give the whole town an economic boost.

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Planners admitted that many who currently lived there could be priced out as improvements increased rents.

But they would be re-housed, or educated in an effort to get them better jobs which would allow them to stay in their homes, said project manager William Wong.

He said no developers had came forward to transform the old Victorian buildings into residential properties before as the amount of investment needed would make it impossible for them to make money from selling the flats.

The streets had until a year ago been designated a secondary holiday area meaning that empty hotels had to remain as accommodation for tourists. But the policy was changed as the hotels remained deserted because there was no demand for them.

Sharp, funded by Go-East's Regional Housing Board, was set up a year ago after the policy was changed to offer companies grants to make developments viable.

“A lot of people think we are lining developers' pockets with money but these projects would not be viable otherwise,” said Mr Wong.

“Developers will not invest if they can make no money,” he added.

Work has already started on the facades of all the buildings in the streets which will have around £15,000 spent on them each to put back wrought iron railings and original doorframes.

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