Great Yarmouth landmark ‘in danger of collapse’

PUBLISHED: 18:17 16 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:21 17 October 2019

The Winter Gardens in Great Yarmouth.

Picture: James Bass

The Winter Gardens in Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2015

A seaside jewel that has lost its sparkle is in danger of collapsing and putting the public at risk, according to a shock report.

The Winter Gardens in Great Yarmouth.  Picture: James BassThe Winter Gardens in Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass

We can reveal that Great Yarmouth's Winter Gardens was set to have £100,000 spent on it to shore it up, amid fears the glass and cast iron structure could shatter.

But the crisis has deepened, and at a behind-closed-doors meeting, Yarmouth borough councillors agreed to add another unspecified sum to the £100,000.

The council said the emergency action was needed because of the loss of glass panes and the condition of the window sills.

Repair plans will see scaffolding placed inside the gardens and glass panels removed and boarded over - until funding for permanent restoration is secured.

The Winter Gardens on Marine Parade in Great Yarmouth. Picture: James BassThe Winter Gardens on Marine Parade in Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass

The building, on South Beach Parade, is the last remaining seafront winter gardens in the UK, and has been closed to the public since 2008.

A copy of a report - seen by this newspaper - urgently requested additional funds be released after contractors estimated the costs of stabilising the "extremely rare building" would go beyond the £100,000 originally put aside for the works, and councillors agreed to supply it from the asset management reserve.

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But the amount of additional funding has not been revealed due to a claim in the report that "it would compromise negotiations to disclose the additional funds".

The report added that the grade two-star listed Winter Gardens was "at risk of potential partial or full collapse" and posed a "threat to public safety" and the nearby businesses.

The council, which agreed to spend £100,000 to repair one of its assets at a meeting on September 10, did not disclose at the time where the funds were to be spent.

In March, the council made a nationwide appeal for investors to rescue the site, which is one of the UK's most at-risk buildings.

Carl Smith, Conservative group leader, said: "Significant valuable work has already taken place and continues to progress behind the scenes to realise the council's ambition - and the community's ambition - to bring our Winter Gardens back into viable use.

"This is a national heritage gem requiring national funding."

And Trevor Wainwright, Labour group leader, said: "We have been monitoring the condition of the building and these urgent remedial works serve to highlight our case for funding.

"The works will ensure protection from the glazing to the surrounding area and also ensure the structure is better protected from weather until permanent repairs can be completed."

READ MORE: Chance for investors to rescue at-risk Winter Gardens

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