Special report: A look at how the Wells area has recovered from the December floods

Golden Fleece owner Steve Brundle in Wells. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Golden Fleece owner Steve Brundle in Wells. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Reporter ADAM LAZZARI went out to the Wells area to see how it is recovering from the December floods.

Peter and Sue McKnespiey outside Cookies Crab Shop in Salthouse. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Peter and Sue McKnespiey outside Cookies Crab Shop in Salthouse. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Seven months after suffering the biggest tidal surge in its history, Wells is a town very much on the up.

Most of the businesses forced to close have reopened, including Standard House Chandlery, The Golden Fleece pub and Shop With a View.

Premises have been refurbished, making the Quayside look fresh and new, and there is a widely-felt sense of optimism as the town enters its peak tourism season.


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The Wells RNLI, whose lifeboat station suffered thousands of pounds worth of damage, has moved on and launched an appeal to raise £250,000 towards a state-of-the-art new lifeboat, Wells Harbour Commissioners' office has been fully repaired and even the fire-ravaged Gray's Arcade site has been brought back into use as a wine shop, art gallery and nautical clothing store.

Further up the coast road, Blakeney Manor Hotel has recently reopened and the popular Cookies Crab Shop, at Salthouse, whose owners Peter and Suzanne McKespiey 'lost everything', has been packed with customers this week.

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Wells harbour master Robert Smith said: 'Wells is looking great at the moment with people getting their businesses back on track and making improvements.

'Wells is on the up and something good has come out of a bad situation.'

The continued closure of Sands Amusements arcade and K's Burger Bar offer a stark reminder of the havoc wrecked on Wells on December 5 and calls have been made for authorities to do more to protect the area from future floods.

Proposals for additional flood defences in Wells have been discussed in meetings between Wells Harbour Commissioners, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb and representatives from North Norfolk District Council and the Environment Agency.

Rob Goodcliffe, coastal management team leader for North Norfolk District Council, said: 'With regard to the Wells proposal there was an early discussion regarding the idea.

'The Environment Agency provided further information about estimated costs of £3m, however, our understanding is that as only 24 properties are likely to benefit from the scheme and as such most of the funding would need to be found 'locally'.

'It was suggested by the Environment Agency that 'property level protection' for those 24 properties would be a more viable alternative.'

Mr Smith said: 'Due to climate change this sort of extreme flooding is likely to be more common in the future, so it is vital that something is done to protect homes and businesses.

'Doing nothing is not an option.'

Assistance to businesses and residential properties impacted by the surge is still available from North Norfolk District Council and further information can be viewed here .

CASE STUDY

The Golden Fleece pub in Wells reopened four weeks ago.

Flood waters severely damaged the bar area and cellar and the popular Quayside pub has undergone a complete refurbishment.

That work is continuing with the new owners investing about £180,000 in opening a new restaurant upstairs and a pizza and pasta room at the back of the pub.

Steven Brundle, who became co-owner of The Golden Fleece with Paddy McAloon on the morning of the highest tidal surge in Wells's history, last December, said: 'It has been great to have the pub open again and we've had lots of positive feedback from customers about how great the place is looking.

'We've been completely transforming the place and

we hope to have the

restaurant open in about two weeks.'

He added: 'It's been hard work and I've not had a day off in five months but I'm really pleased with the way things are coming together.'

Mr Brundle has joined a recently-formed Wells business forum and he hopes to work with other traders for the good of the town.

He said insurance claims are still being sorted out.

Mr Brundle added: 'I understand they are very busy at the moment and we don't have a problem with it.'

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