Town council could take ownership of Thorpe St Andrew’s historical buildings following Little Plumstead Hospital blaze

Visit by professor Collette Higgins, of Kapi'olani Community College, Hawaii, commemorating Queen Ka

Visit by professor Collette Higgins, of Kapi'olani Community College, Hawaii, commemorating Queen Kapiolani's visit in 1887 to the Thorpe St Andrew landmark. The professor is travelling in the Queen’s footsteps and will be visiting Pinebanks Tower, where a plaque marking the visit of Queen Kapiolani reads “Hawaii Queen Kapiolani Ascended This Tower 6 June 1887”.Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

Just days after a 19th century hospital was destroyed by fire, a town council is looking to ensure its historical assets do not meet the same fate.

Langley School gardens.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Langley School gardens.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Several Victorian buildings in Thorpe St Andrew could be brought under council ownership under new plans to protect them from vandalism and arson.

The sites being considered include the former Langley Preparatory School on Yarmouth Road and a Second World War bunker on the Pinebanks estate.

It comes after Little Plumstead Hospital, near Norwich, was reduced to rubble over the weekend in what is believed to have been an arson attack.

Ian Mackie, town mayor, said: 'There is a significant historical interest in these buildings for Thorpe and is why the town council is taking a proactive view to preserve them in the future.

'Recent events have shown us that if things stay empty for a long period of time, there is a risk they could be lost forever.'

The vacant historical sites around the town are all currently fenced off and sealed up to stop people from getting inside.

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But such measures failed to protect the Grade II listed Pinebanks House, which was destroyed by fire more than two years ago.

Town clerk Thomas Foreman said the council could take ownership of the buildings instead of section 106 money from developers.

Both the war-time listening station and a 19th century tower are on the Pinebanks site, which is earmarked for hundreds of new homes.

Mr Foreman added: 'As part of any deal to take on an asset, we would look at ongoing running costs to ensure it would not burden residents.'

The move could also see some of the sites opened up to the public for the first time and even turned into tourist attractions for the town.

But Mr Foreman said this would depend on health and safety assessments.

Other sites being considered by the council, include the Boatyard Foreman's Cottage on Griffin Lane.

Nick Williams, secretary of Thorpe History Group, said: 'We would support the retainment of these buildings in public ownership.

'I think it makes people more aware of their local heritage and encourages them to take an interest.'

Speaking about the Pinebanks tower, a spokesman for Ocubis, development manager for the site, said: 'We have an open mind about its long-term ownership and welcome the opportunity to discuss this further with the town council in due course.'