Eyesore Norwich pub sparks extra powers call for councils

The case of an eyesore pub in Norwich has sparked calls for local councils to be given extra powers to force developers to take action.

The King's Arms in Mile Cross Road served its last pint in early 2000 but since then the site has become derelict and has been targeted by fly-tippers and vandals.

Planning permission for the building to be refurbished and turned into flats, with more new flats added via an extension, was granted to a company called Manhattan Corporation in August 2005. But that consent has lapsed and there has been no sign of any work being done on the site.

As reported in the Evening News, local councillors have been calling for action on the site, and Ralph Gayton, Labour's Mile Cross candidate in next month's city council elections, has written to the company believed to own the site calling for action, accompanied by a petition signed by more than 60 people. But council leader Steve Morphew believes the government could be doing more to give councils the power to force developers to take action.

He said, while the council does have the power to seek a compulsory purchase order on the building, that can be a costly gamble for local authorities.

He has written to Norwich North MP Chloe Smith asking if there is any chance that the coalition's Localism Bill could be amended to hand councils more control.

He said: 'The costs of using existing powers is prohibitive and risky in terms of cash and time, so really what we need are better and more defined powers that enable the council to force the issue by either forcing the owner to demolish, develop or take the site to the market and dispose of it.

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'A demolish, develop or dispose order with a tight-ish timescale would mean an end to this and potentially other eyesore properties.' He said, while he is no fan of the Localism Bill, it could be an opportunity to hand councils such a power.

Miss Smith has written to minister at the Department for Communities and Local Government to see what options might be available. She said: 'It is an eyesore and local people really want to see it fixed. I am immediately looking into what powers can be made available to the council to help them to do this. I hope that this can be looked at.'

The Evening News' Love Your Local Campaign has urged people to make use of the city's pubs to stop them from disappearing. For more stories on the Evening News' Love Your Local campaign visit www.eveningnews24.co.uk/loveyourlocal

Are you fighting to get an eyesore cleared up where you live? Call reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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