Stalham Town Council must make urgent decision on purchase of old station yard site

The clock is ticking for Stalham Town Council members who must make an urgent decision on whether to raise �250,000 and buy an eyesore site at their community's gateway.

Norfolk County Council is poised to sell the old station yard site which has remained undeveloped at the northern approach to the town for at least 15 years.

In the past a number of unsuccessful proposals have been made for the site, including a new police station and a community hub, incorporating a library.

Now community leaders fear the county will sell it to the highest bidder and the prime site could then be developed with high-density housing.

Town councillors are to call an urgent behind-closed-doors extraordinary meeting to discuss the situation.

County councillor Nigel Dixon urged them to act fast 'or the opportunity will disappear,' when he attended their meeting on Monday.

'The whole reason Norfolk County Council is having to sell this and many other sites is it needs to raise the capital,' he said.

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North Norfolk District Councillor (NNDC) Robert Stevens feared motorists approaching the town would be met by an ugly view of washing lines and back-garden fences if the site went to a developer and he estimated the town council had about 28 days to reach a decision.

But town councillor Elizabeth Jackson urged members to be realistic. She added: 'Does the town council have the sheer will and enthusiasm and drive to go through with this, apart from the finances?'

Pauline Grove-Jones, a town and district councillor, felt Stalham's best hope lay in putting pressure on whoever bought the site through what she described as 'North Norfolk District Council's ransom strip' - the NNDC-owned car park at the High Street front of the site.

The car park had to be crossed to get access to part of the county-owned site and Mrs Grove-Jones said that if the district could be persuaded not to part with it, the strip could become a vital bargaining tool, enabling Stalham to secure the best possible deal from developers.

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