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Clean up the once-grand Great Yarmouth custom house - or face criminal prosecution

PUBLISHED: 12:26 17 October 2014 | UPDATED: 15:22 17 October 2014

The Custom House grade II listed building on South Quay in Great Yarmouth which is in need of some repairs.
October 2014.

Picture: James Bass

The Custom House grade II listed building on South Quay in Great Yarmouth which is in need of some repairs. October 2014. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2014

Legal powers could be used to urge the owner of a run-down building in Great Yarmouth to repair and refurbish the historic site.

The Custom House grade II listed building on South Quay in Great Yarmouth which is in need of some repairs.
October 2014.

Picture: James Bass The Custom House grade II listed building on South Quay in Great Yarmouth which is in need of some repairs. October 2014. Picture: James Bass

Great Yarmouth Borough Council has written to the developer Shallosquare Ltd over the shabby condition of 20 South Quay, a grade II*-listed building better known as Custom House.

Built in 1720 for a prominent herring merchant, the once grand Georgian house was sold in 1802 to the government for use as a customs house. 184 years later it was sold to the Port of Yarmouth Commissioners.

The commissioners owned and occupied Custom House, as well as the neighbouring Port and Haven Commissioners Office, until August 2009. It has been empty since.

Now an ugly eye-sore on South Quay, the building has boarded up windows, peeling paint and rotting wood pillars.

The Custom House grade II listed building on South Quay in Great Yarmouth which is in need of some repairs.
October 2014.

Picture: James Bass The Custom House grade II listed building on South Quay in Great Yarmouth which is in need of some repairs. October 2014. Picture: James Bass

Last year, the borough council granted listed building consent, following an application by Shallosquare, for change of use and alterations at 20 and 21 South Quay to create four self-contained houses. But no work has been carried out.

Now, under section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the council is giving Shallosquare Ltd two months to tidy up the property.

If the work is not complete by December 7, the council will serve a formal enforcement notice which will set out a legally enforceable deadline for the work. If the work is still not complete, the council, as well as criminal prosecution, has the option to carry out the work, place a charge on the land and recover the costs through the courts.

Cllr Trevor Wainwright, the council leader, said: “The borough council regularly uses powers to secure the tidying-up of land and buildings, and has also taken enforcement action in the past where works have not been undertaken.

“Last year, the borough council used powers to transform Vauxhall House, a prominent building near the railway station. Now the borough council turns its attention to Custom House, another prominent building on another gateway to the town, the historic port.

“As I have said before, first impressions of a town always count in terms of attracting new investment, visitors, and bolstering our sense of civic pride, so it is vital that buildings on gateway sites are brought up to standard.

“This is all the more important with historic buildings like Custom House, whose location and former uses make it a central part of the borough’s heritage. Great Yarmouth Borough Council works hard with partners to promote and enhance its heritage – and having such an historic building boarded up is sending the wrong message to the thousands of people who visit South Quay each year for the Maritime Festival.”

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