Yarmouth iconic building's facelift put on ice after pull-out
PUBLISHED: 06:00 15 October 2011
The owner of an iconic Great Yarmouth building told of its lost potential yesterday after Norfolk County Council pulled out of a proposal to move hundreds of staff to Havenbridge House.
Ian Reid of Citygate Developments revealed how a £2m project to revamp the building was put on ice after the county council backed out of a proposal to relocate 312 staff to the site on North Quay.
The company director said the council’s decision was a blow to local services in Yarmouth, as shops and businesses were all set to benefit from an injection of hundreds of people.
Meanwhile, Mr Reid also took the opportunity to reveal images of how the building would look if the deal had been made.
Pictures released depict Havenbridge House with the new windows, the overcladding of existing brick work with modern insulated panels, and a complete internal refurbishment including an energy-efficient cooling system.
Mr Reid said: “Obviously the work would have transformed the image of the building but it would also have sent out a strong message about investment and confidence in Great Yarmouth.
“Havenbridge House is the most prominent building in the town and we would love to be able to provide it with a modern new image to kick start some further regeneration.
“Our investment would have been in the region of £2m but we do need commitment on part of the building from a new tenant.
“The County Council was going to take two of the seven floors. No grants or assistance is available as Havenbridge is outside the Enterprise zone - this would have all been funded by Citygate.
“The county council are supposed to protect the town centre and attract investment, and to be fair that is what they were doing.
“But now they are moving the staff to another location and it seems completely crazy that these people will not be spending money in the town. Seems like they are going against some of their policies.”
In December, Norfolk County Council agreed to move staff based in offices around Yarmouth to a single ‘hub’. The transfer, officers had estimated, would save almost £120,000 a year, deliver capital receipts of almost £30,000 and shave £237,000 off the cost of the building maintenance backlog.
But analysis had shown the building would not cope with the volumes and variety of visitors and, according to a council report, would “lead to unacceptably high risks relating to customer and staff safety.”
To provide secure receptions areas, recreation and meeting rooms would cost more than £90,000, while the revenue saved each year would drop to just under £50,000.
The council’s cabinet decided on Monday to pull the plug on a wholesale move and instead look at moving staff to a number of existing council-owned buildings, before identifying a longer-term solution.
Citygate Developments is based in Brundall.