Council proposes £100,000 purchase to improve car park access
- Credit: Archant
A Norfolk council is in a race against time to purchase land to improve pedestrian access in a historic market town.
North Norfolk District Council is considering spending £100,000 to purchase land near its Bank Loke Car Park in North Walsham, to improve access to the market place.
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 funding from Historic England.
The plans are due to go before the cabinet at a special meeting on Tuesday.
A report to the council said: “The aim of the programme is to secure lasting improvements for the town’s historic core, supporting its vitality and viability by improving the physical fabric of the town centre.
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"Restoring, repairing and improving key historic buildings and developing a cultural programme to celebrate the town’s historic importance.
“North Walsham has a disjointed network of pathways leading to its centre from its car parks and one, which is particularly unattractive, is Black Swan Loke."
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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.
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.
"It would've made more sense if they'd made a little more effort to clear the snow and ice from them recently I have to say, but the paths themselves are not in bad condition.
"If you look about there probably are some issues outside the Market Place in various places, but I suppose it's no bad thing if they're looking to make the pavements a bit better."
The report said the total budget for purchasing the site, legal costs and any other costs in securing the site are not expected to exceed £100,000.
Historic England will meet half the costs of the site, provided the council can complete the purchase by March 31, 2021.
Failure to complete the purchase could cost the council around £2,000 in abortive fees.
As well as improving the access through the town, future development on the site has been proposed, with car parking and public toilets suggested.
However, the report says the default position is “merely to improve the site as an attractive area”.
The land has also been subject to fly-tipping in the past and by purchasing the land the council hopes to address the issue.
The meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 23 at 4pm and can be viewed on the NNDC eDemocracy YouTube channel.