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Premier Inn owner gets go-ahead to knock down arson-hit warehouses

PUBLISHED: 06:33 15 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:29 15 August 2020

The owners of Premier Inn have been given permission to demolish two warehouses in Norwich. Pic: Dan Grimmer.

The owners of Premier Inn have been given permission to demolish two warehouses in Norwich. Pic: Dan Grimmer.

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Derelict warehouses which have been targeted by arsonists and used by squatters are to be knocked down, with the company which owns Premier Inn ready to lodge plans to redevelop the area.

Councillor Keith Driver. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYCouncillor Keith Driver. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The empty warehouses in Norwich’s Mountergate, close to the Rose Lane car park, belong to Whitbread PLC, which owns Premier Inn, Beefeater and Brewers’ Fayre.

The company had asked Norwich City Council for permission to demolish the warehouses, and members of the planning committee agreed to give the go-ahead for that to happen.

Council officers recommended approval of the scheme, even though it will lead to the “undesirable” situation of an empty area of land.

National Heritage watchdog Historic England said it could not support the scheme for that reason, given it is in a conservation area and next to two grade II listed buildings - St Faiths House and Weavers House.

The owners of Premier Inn have been given permission to demolish two warehouses in Norwich. Pic: Dan Grimmer.The owners of Premier Inn have been given permission to demolish two warehouses in Norwich. Pic: Dan Grimmer.

But City Hall officers said the buildings made a “negative” contribution to the conservation area.

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They said: “In addition, the buildings are in a very bad condition and therefore difficult to secure from break-ins.

“There have been instances of arson, which is obviously undesirable in structures which are attached to a listed building.

“This makes the situation more urgent and although the site is likely to come forward for comprehensive redevelopment in the near future, the demolition of these buildings is considered acceptable in the short term.”

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A statement provided to the council by Whitbread’s agents Savills, said the company was spending about £9,000 a month on 24 hour security to protect the properties.

They said: “Whitbread are in pre-application discussions with the council and Historic England about the comprehensive development of the site and wider area. An application will come forward for development in 2021.”

The site is close to the Premier Inn in Prince of Wales Road and its associated car park.

Despite voting for demolition, councillors expressed concerns the buildings would be pulled down without plans to put anything in their place.

But planning committee chairman Keith Driver concluded: “I think we should be pulling these down.”


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