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Old Pontin's 'ought to be demolished'

PUBLISHED: 11:45 23 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:50 03 July 2010

A LEADING tourism leader said yesterday that the former Pontin's in Hemsby should be knocked down to make way for homes or other commercial use.

Brian Potter, who owns the five- star Potter's Leisure Resort at nearby Hopton, said that council rules need to be changed so the empty Pontin's does not become an eyesore and target for vandals.

A LEADING tourism leader said yesterday that the former Pontin's in Hemsby should be knocked down to make way for homes or other commercial use.

Brian Potter, who owns the five- star Potter's Leisure Resort at nearby Hopton, said that council rules need to be changed so the empty Pontin's does not become an eyesore and target for vandals.

When the camp was suddenly shut down earlier this month, Yarmouth Borough Council said it would fight tooth and nail to keep it as a prime holiday site and stop developers eyeing it up to build homes.

Yesterday at a meeting of the Greater Yarmouth Tourist Authority, Mr Potter said the council should get over its paranoia of making sure it keeps its entrenched position on the Hemsby site.

Mr Potter said he would not stop any bulldozers ripping down the camp's empty chalets and defunct facilities so vandals and arsonists would not be able to target them.

And Mr Potter was supported in his views by Michael Timewell, director of the Norfolk-based Blue Sky leisure and property company, who said that the empty camp was no longer viable as a holiday park.

Mr Potter said: “I think I would be tempted to pull it down in total. I think the borough council should not get paranoid about losing the site for a better use.”

He said he doubted another major holiday operator would set up camp on the Pontin's site because of a lack of space, its location and perceived poor image.

Mr Timewell told the meeting that he also queried the sense of another company, such as Center Parcs, moving in. He said “I can't see it as a holiday camp. It is not economically viable.”

On January 5, the owners of Pontin's, Ocean Parcs, suddenly announced its Hemsby camp was closing with immediate effect due to poor levels of bookings, high running costs and the need for substantial investment.

There has been strong speculation that the owner of the land, Northern Trust, wants to build hundreds of homes there after it submitted a £50m plan to demolish a Pontin's in Blackpool and put up 370 homes.

When the Hemsby Pontin's was suddenly closed, Graham Plant, Yarmouth borough councillor responsible for tourism, said the authority would continue to defend the tourist industry by opposing any change of use to prime holiday sites.

The decision to close Pontin's affected 55 employees. Since the closure, Ocean Parcs has announced it is significantly investing in its Pontin's site at Pakefield, near Lowestoft.

t The tourist authority meeting at the town's Palace Casino also heard that a park-and-ride system should be set up in the summer because of a lack of parking in the town.

And Christopher How, Norfolk County councillor responsible for economic development, went two steps further in trying to solve the parking problem by suggesting the idea of a congestion charge and allowing motorists to park on Yarmouth's sandy beaches during the height of the season.

It was also suggested by the forum that residents' parking schemes be scrapped during the day to free up spaces for visitors.


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