Wells Quay faces another eyesore summer

Wells Quay faces a third summer of having its picture postcard charm smudged by the charred remains of a prominent seafront building which was destroyed by fire.

Wells Quay faces a third summer of having its picture postcard charm smudged by the charred remains of a prominent seafront building which was destroyed by fire.

However, it emerged this week that behind-the-scenes negotiations are going on to settle the future of the boarded-up amusement arcade, now described as an eyesore.

Concern has been growing since the property, adjoining one of the quayside's most photographed buildings, was boarded up following a severe fire in January 2005.

Efforts have been made by Wells town council and North Norfolk District Council to get the property brought back into use.


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Earlier this year a number of potential uses, including residential, shops and a small hotel, were put forward by private individuals and these were discussed by planning officials at North Norfolk District Council.

But the stumbling block appears to be the reluctance of some members of the Gray family, who own the property, next door to the picturesque granary complex, to sell the site for re-development. The site is in the ownership of the Gray family and another private owner.

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On Monday, senior NNDC planning officer, Geoff Lyon, said the authority was very keen to see the property brought back into use. The council had been acting in an advisory role and had looked at various schemes people had brought forward.

“The public have brought some ideas to us but because the site is not for sale none of these have been able to be taken any further. There are two listed buildings behind the arcade and these also have an impact on any future uses,” he said.

He added : “The ball seems to be back in the Gray family's court. None of the people who put forward ideas earlier this year have come back to us”.

Former Wells mayor and district councillor Joyce Trett said everyone has been trying to see what can be done about the arcade because it had become such an eyesore on the quay which didn't give out a very good message to visitors and holidaymakers.

“The property is in private ownership and so our hands are tied and compulsory purchase would be extremely costly for the council tax payers, particularly in the current economic climate. We will keep plugging away at it to get something done,” said Mrs Trett.

Jacqueline Gray, a member of the Gray family who operates businesses on the quayside, was only prepared to say that the site was the subject of “constant negotiations”. “I am not at liberty to discuss it further,” she said.

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