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Abandoned holiday park is a magnet for illegal urban explorers and ‘an accident waiting to happen’

PUBLISHED: 16:17 27 February 2020

An aerial photo of the former Pontins site at Hemsby, captured with a DJI drone, as fire crews deal with the blaze. Picture: Simon Carter

An aerial photo of the former Pontins site at Hemsby, captured with a DJI drone, as fire crews deal with the blaze. Picture: Simon Carter

Archant

Urgent calls are being made for tighter security at an abandoned Norfolk holiday park being targeted by urban explorers who post their footage online.

Aerial pics of the Pontins site in Hemsby. Photo: Simon CarterAerial pics of the Pontins site in Hemsby. Photo: Simon Carter

Where once Pontins in Hemsby was visited by happy family hordes it is now only graffiti artists, vandals, arsonists, and online adventurers who film in neglected spaces, that break-in past security.

For some it is a pastime that sees them travelling the country in search of eerie buildings to explore, sharing videos of their dangerous escapades with their followers.

Footage taken in Hemsby shows them crunching through broken glass, climbing up zip wire platforms, and peering into pools that will never be filled with water again.

MORE: 'The landowner should pay' - shock figures reveal string of fires at former Pontins site

And this week a national newspaper published video and pictures showing how the 20-acre site had been "swallowed by nature."

The Former Hemsby Pontins Holiday camp.The Former Hemsby Pontins Holiday camp.

For frustrated locals it is far from entertaining, its popularity as an 'Urbex' location only fuelling fears about the site's safety and security.

Kim McAdoo, chair of Hemsby Residents Action Group says the state of the site - further under attack from recent storms - is putting people's properties and lives at risk.

She has fired off a letter to Carl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, warning of a "serious accident" unless something is done and reminding the authority of its "duty of care" to residents.

Taking issue with the effectiveness of 24-hour security and CCTV she said the group had repeatedly flagged up issues which met with "little response" from the council.

Fire-fighters damping down after a large fire at the old Pontins holiday park in Hemsby. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodFire-fighters damping down after a large fire at the old Pontins holiday park in Hemsby. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

She ends the letter, seen by this newspaper, with: "I would also appreciate any information on whether any progress has been made on the sale of the site, or whether we will just have to endure these appalling conditions indefinitely?"

MORE: 'We can't win anymore' - residents despair after fire rips through former holiday park

Mr Smith said the safety of the community was the council's "top priority."

He said: "The site is managed by The Northern Trust Company, who are responsible for its security and preservation.

"The site is being actively monitored by a security company, with incidents attended to when required and the police informed when appropriate.

Fire-fighters damping down after a large fire at the old Pontins holiday park in Hemsby. Picture: Jamie Honeywood Fire-fighters damping down after a large fire at the old Pontins holiday park in Hemsby. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

"The council's top priority is to ensure the community and immediate area surrounding the site remain safe.

"A number of legal notices, served previously by the council following past fires at other buildings, remain in place at the site.

"The council will continue to monitor the site and report anything that could pose a risk to the appropriate company for them to address.

"In July, the development control committee approved a planning application to redevelop the site, subject to conditions and finalisation of a legal agreement. "The formal decision notice will be issued shortly."

Pontins in Hemsby through the years. Photo: Archant LibraryPontins in Hemsby through the years. Photo: Archant Library

The scheme agreed is for 190 homes, shops and a 50-unit caravan park.

In its heyday the vast 22 acre site could accommodate 2,440 people at peak capacity in 512 individual chalets.

It also featured a reception and information centre, amusement arcade, fast food outlet, play area, entertainment hall seating 1,700, a smaller hall accommodating 800, and a shop.

There was also an indoor swimming pool, a pub, snooker rooms, tennis courts, adventure playground and go-karting track.

The 50 plus buildings are all in a state of disrepair and are often vandalised.

The holiday park closed in 2008.

Over the years various plans have been put forward including an Eden of the East bio-dome attraction, care home, pub, library, homes, and a veteran's village.

The site's owners Northern Trust have been approached for a comment.

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