Norwich shopping centre for sale
A block of flats and shopping centre that has been blighted by complaints over living conditions and car park pot-holes is up for sale – and calls are being made for the council to take action over the troubled complex.
Earlham House, in Earlham Road, has been the subject of much debate in recent years with long-running battles over the car park and court action over insufficiently heated flats.
A 125-year lease has now been advertised for the site for �2.35m, and Green Party councillors are calling on the city council to step in and take action on the site.
Denise Carlo, councillor for Nelson ward, said the site was one of the biggest issues of concern in her ward.
She said: 'The failure of a succession of absentee private landlords to bring Earlham House up to proper standard is scandalous. The flats lack any insulation or in-built heating whilst the lower car park is pitted with dangerous potholes and floods for months on end.
'Norwich Greens have repeatedly urged the city council to take action against the various landlords who have been raking in the rents without investing in the site.'
She said that it has received 'negligible investment' over many years, after being owned by different London-based property companies.
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'It would be wonderful if a Norfolk housing association could step in and take it over and refurbish the whole property,' she said.
She added that the ownership of the site was 'very complex' with some of the businesses and flats owned separately.
Councillor Victoria MacDonald, who recently took over the city council role as cabinet member for housing, said she would be happy to talk to the Green Party about the issue.
Ms MacDonald, who has just returned from the Chartered Institute of Housing's conference in Harrogate, said: 'There were a lot of discussions and a lot of feeling nationally that we need to look at how we manage properties. Obviously it is a private landlord so there is a limit to what we can do to an extent.'
She added that she was interested in trying to establish co-operative, residential groups, and this could be something to consider when a new landlord was brought in.
Since 2007, the Norwich Green Party has been campaigning with local families to improve the condition of the pothole-ridden car park, and the council did give latest owners Top Investments Limited an improvement notice to address the issue by April 1 or face legal action. The council is now considering whether to prosecute the firm, which has gone into receivership, after no action was taken.
Other previous owners Relay Arch were fined �15,000 last year for failing to ensure that three properties in the flats were sufficiently heated.
The leasehold is being sold as a residential investment by the BTC Group. The advert explains that there are 40 studios, 18 one-bedroom and 2 two-bedroom flats that are being refurbished.
It adds that there are 22 commercial shops and the parking spaces behind the block, with shop-rent around �70,000 to �80,000, plus service charges.