Council takes five minutes to agree to £100,000 land purchase

Quiet pathways around St Nicholas Church during the Coronavirus lockdown in North Walsham. Picture:

St Nicholas Church, with its famous ruined tower, in the centre of North Walsham. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY

Councillors spent less than five minutes to agree to go ahead with plans to spend £100,000 on land to improve pedestrian access in a historic market town. 

At a special meeting of North Norfolk District Council cabinet on Tuesday, councillors gave unanimous support to purchasing Black Swan Loke - land near its Bank Loke Car Park in North Walsham. 

A report to the cabinet said the purchase aims to “secure lasting improvements for the town’s historic core."

Speaking to the cabinet, councillor Richard Kershaw said: "A parcel of land has become available which in the view of working committee will improve the pedestrian access through to the market by joining one of the lokes, which at the moment is a blot on the landscape.” 

Richard Kershaw North Norfolk District Councillor. Picture: Richard Kershaw

Richard Kershaw North Norfolk District Councillor. Picture: Richard Kershaw - Credit: Archant

Mr Kershaw informed the cabinet the assets department had already made an offer for the land because speed was needed. 

Historic England will meet half the costs of the site, provided the council can complete the purchase by March 31, 2021. 

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The plans are part of a heritage action zone plan - areas aiming for improvement by making them more attractive to residents, businesses and tourists, with additional funding from Historic England. 

Councillor Angie Fitch-Tillett queried if some of the cost could be returned through business use, as suggested in the report to the council.  

North Norfolk District Council is doing an IT upgrade, meaning its local search departmet is closed

North Norfolk District Council has proposed purchasing land to improve access between the car park and market place in North Walsham - Credit: Archant

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Mr Kershaw said that could be looked into in the future but would not be part of the plan for purchasing the land.  

The report described North Walsham as having a “disjointed network” of pathways leading to its centre from its car parks and Black Swan Loke as “particularly unattractive”. 

Speaking ahead of the meeting Colin Page, who owns CD Page Tobacconists in the Market Place, welcomed the move but added that he was surprised as he didn't see a lot wrong with the town's footpaths. 

Snow and ice has led to quiet streets in North Walsham.

North Walsham under snow and ice - Credit: Casey Cooper-Fiske

He said: "Black Swan Loke is in passable condition I think, I walk through there every morning and I haven't looked and thought that it was particularly bad or anything. 

"They spent quite a lot of money renewing the paths here about 20 years ago didn't they, the Market Place paths were dug up and renewed.” 

The cabinet heard costs were not expected to exceed £100,000, for purchasing the site and any legal costs. 

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