Historic Norwich home could be among sites sold off by council
PUBLISHED: 15:07 08 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:58 08 January 2019
A home familiar to Norwich City football fans is among a string of properties Norfolk County Council is looking to offload.
The council is looking to sell off £10m of land and buildings and reduce it spending on property by more than £4m as it tries to plug a multi-million pound funding gap.
And the Carrow Bridge House, which has stood next to Carrow Bridge near the Canaries’ ground since the 1920s, is among the latest properties and sites councillors will be asked to put up for sale.
Council officers say it would cost more than £100,000 to make the property habitable. They say security and insurance costs £6,000 a year, so they want to sell off the site.
County Hall previously applied to Norwich City Council for permission to knock down the home, which was once the bridge master’s house for Carrow Bridge. But planning officers at City Hall refused to grant permission.
They said demolition would cause harm to the wider conservation area, which includes the medieval Boom Tower on the opposite side of the river.
Historic England had also objected to the loss of Norwich’s only ‘bridge house’ on similar grounds, saying not enough information had been provided to properly assess the impact of demolition.
The Environment Agency objected because of the lack of a flood risk assessment, while Tim Mellors, the city council’s natural areas officer objected due to the lack of an ecological assessment.
In turning down demolition permission, officers at Norwich City Council said: “The house appears serviceable.”
Reginald Dann, who had lived in the property for more than 50 years, was moved out to alternative accommodation in 2017.
And county councillors will be asked, at a meeting of the business and property committee on Tuesday, January 15, to sell the building.
Officers say: “The property is in an extremely poor state of repair. The interior ceiling and wall finishes, floors, utilities, pipes, heating and wiring have all largely been vandalised or removed.
“There is no kitchen or bathroom and works are required to the structure of the building and a solution is required for sewage disposal.
“Furthermore, there is only pedestrian access on to the site.”
While none of that exactly screams out ‘buy me’ to a prospective purchaser, councillors will be asked to agree to declare the property surplus to council requirements.
They will also be asked to instruct the authority’s head of property to dipose of it, either by auction or by tender.
The committee will, however, also be asked to agree to buy land for a new recycling centre to serve Norwich.
The Mile Cross Recycling Centre is due to close in 2021 when the current contract expires.
And the council has identified a site of about four acres on land off the Norwich Northern Distributor Road.
The land, opposite Norwich International Airport, would be accessed off the A140 Cromer Road near the NDR, which is now known as the Broadland Northway.
The site belongs to Legislator 1657, which is jointly owned by Norwich City Council and the county council.
Terms have been agreed for the site to pass to Norfolk County Council for no cost, on the agreement County Hall builds an access road to the site, which goes over privately-owned land.
The committee will be asked to agree to the acquisition of the site and the extra land needed for the access road.
If that is successful, then a planning application is expected to be lodged in the autumn.
Councillors are also being asked to agree to sell a parcel of land next to Rosecroft Primary School at London Road in Attleborough and a road at Baron’s Close in Fakenham.
Farmland at Great Crown Farm in Blakeney Road, which is part of the council’s County Farms is estate is proposed for sale, as is land at Baldock Drive in King’s Lynn.
A former community centre in Lawrence Road in King’s Lynn could also be sold, along with land in North Elmham, South Walsham and Redenhall with Harleston.
The committee will also make decisions on disposing of 15 pieces of land which the council had acquired for highways schemes, but which were never used.
That includes land at Edward Street in Norwich, in Ditchingham, Great Yarmouth, Hemsby, Hindringham and Thurne.
Council bosses say they need to look at selling off property as they wrestle with finding ways to save £79m over the next three years.
The council will soon be setting its budget and the financial planning includes plans to bring in £10m of capital recepits to pay off debts.
Up to now, the council has sold off about £4.5m of assets each year, but is stepping up those sales.
The council recently appointed SDL Auctions on a contract worth up to £17,000 over 17 months, to conduct its property auctions.
But at a recent council meeting, Labour’s Colleen Walker said: “I do worry about selling the family silver. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”
However, Barry Stone, Conservative chairman of the business and property committee, said officers would always look at other options to generate revenue before suggesting disposal.
He said auctions were one of the most effective ways of getting the best price.