Council purchase of former carpet shop complete after 20 years empty
- Credit: Liz Coates
A landmark building has been bought by a council after efforts to locate and negotiate with the owner failed.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council began proceedings to order the owner to repair 145 King Street several years ago after the listed building's slide into disrepair became critical.
When efforts to contact the named owner at various addresses failed a bid for compulsory purchase (CPO) was launched.
Darren Barker, project director for the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust, said the distinctive building had been empty for around 20 years and needed a range of urgent repairs.
He said the secretary of state had signed off the CPO which could not now be challenged.
Once it was complete after a "vesting period" it will be immediately sold on to the town's preservation trust.
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Meanwhile, the council had issued an urgent repairs order for works to the roof and railings which were now critical and could not wait, he added.
He said "absolutely everything" had been done to contact the owner.
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"We know his name and have various addresses for him across the county and have tried every email address," he said.
Once a market value is agreed and paid, the money will be kept in account for a period of time in case the owner comes forward.
Mr Barker said the the long-term ambition was to return it to something closer to its original use.
Dating from around 1850 it worked as a companion building to St George's Chapel, now a theatre, hosting a Sunday school and sports activities in the main hall.
Having been included in the Heritage Action Zone there was grant assistance, he said.
A feasibility study would look at options which could include keeping the large hall for community and workshop use providing a space to make scenery for the theatre, and for use by charities and arts' organisations like Out There Arts.
There was also scope for a quality residential unit at the back, fulfilling a housing need and providing an income for the upkeep of the building.
The Grade II-listed building’s striking facade with its imposing columns make it stand out in the historic street, once home to the town’s richest merchants who lived in lavish houses.
At the end of the last century the building was variously a carpet shop and a second hand centre.