'A wonderful, warm and interesting place to stay' - but quirky holiday let fails to pay its way
PUBLISHED: 16:51 31 January 2019
A mighty five-storey tower tipped as the answer to boosting cultural tourism and saving old buildings has struggled to make ends meet and could be given away.
South East Tower, part of Great Yarmouth’s impressive town wall, was converted to holiday accommodation and furnished in “vintage” style to attract a new breed of tripper.
But papers prepared ahead of the borough council’s policy and resources committee on Tuesday reveal it is currently closed for repairs and needs a significant amount spending on it.
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Some £125,000 was invested in transforming the tower in Blackfriar’s Road three years ago.
The work was undertaken by Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust and the proposal now is to transfer ownership to the charity who say they are keen for the wider public to carry on enjoying it.
It had been hoped that the income generated would be used to maintain the tower and nearby wall.
But in July an inspection found “serious shortcomings” with the property not complying with health and safety legislation and it was immediately closed.
Work has been carried out but some furniture needs replacing and in the next five years around £86,000 has been budgeted for masonry repairs.
Prior to closure bookings for this year had been at around £2,000 with a further £6,000 secured.
Holiday rent has been set at £500 during the peak season and, £350 at any other time.
The property sleeps four with two more possible on airbeds.
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A total annual income of £15,525 is projected against annual outgoings of £32,568.
If repair costs are ignored the best that can be hoped for is that the tower will break even, although it is “likely to deliver a negative return.”
The scheduled ancient monument had been empty for nearly two decades before the conversion.
Because of the ongoing costs involved the tower is virtually worthless as a property.
The tower had been marketed on a niche accommodation website for quirky properties and one reviewer described their stay as “fabulous”.
She said: “A wonderful, warm and interesting place to stay. Great couple of days in April - the heating was on when we arrived and we enjoyed being in the tower and the space as much as possible - visited the tower over 30 years ago and have a photo of me aged 14 on the balcony.
“Celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary and we were made to feel welcome with a card and chocolates on arrival. We will return again with our boys.”
Members of the policy and resources committee are being asked to approve the transfer of South East Tower to the Preservation Trust to operate as holiday accommodation.