Facelift to make historic warehouse more attractive to developers

The former Sommerfield and Thomas warehouse on the quay in king's Lynn Picture: Chris Bishop

The former Sommerfield and Thomas warehouse on the quay in King's Lynn - Credit: Chris Bishop

A historic warehouse which has stood empty for more than 20 years is set for a facelift in a bid to woo developers.

West Norfolk council bought the former Sommerfield and Thomas Warehouse on the South Quay in King's Lynn in 2018.

It hopes the building can be redeveloped, to help regenerate the Ouse waterfront. When it first confirmed it had purchased the building, which was on the market for £1m, the council said it was in talks with "an interested party" who was "keen to develop the site for a tourism/leisure related form of development".

Now the council has applied to carry out repairs and remove extensions which were added to the 18th Century building in the 1950s, including lean-tos, to restore its original courtyard. 

Rain water drainage will also be improved and asbestos removed from the building.

In a planning statement, the council says: "The council is keen to undertake a series of sensitive conservation repair works to reduce further deterioration of the main warehouse building, whilst demolishing the modern and unsightly structures. This first phase of works provides a safe and secure site for any future tenant.

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"The council’s future vision is to enhance the existing offering and opportunities of the South Quay through restoration and promotion of the existing heritage asset to provide further potential for community, leisure and activities, as part of the town’s economic regeneration."

Land was bought for the warehouse by Thomas Bagge, a member of a prominent Lynn brewing family, in 1768.

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When the railway came to Lynn in the mid-19th Century, wagons would load and unload goods through its giant doors from lines running along the quayside.

But in the 1970s and 80s, the Ouse waterfront began to decline and the railway was removed.

Silos to store grain being loaded on and off ships stood nearby until they were demolished in 2005.

There were hopes the silo site would be developed for housing, but a bid for a 37-home retirement complex fell through and land has stood empty since.

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