Forced sale of pub site should serve as warning over other eyesores

The King's Arms pub at Mile Cross Road pictured in 2013. Pic: Denise Bradley

The Kings Arms pictured in 2013, before its demolition. - Credit: Archant 2013

Landowners who allow derelict Norwich sites to go to rack and ruin have been warned council bosses are prepared to force them to sell up to make way for new homes.

The warning came after Norwich City Council moved a significant step nearer to getting homes built on an eyesore site formerly home to a pub.

Last year, the council's Labour-controlled cabinet forced the sale of the land on which the former Kings Arms pub on Mile Cross Lane stood.

The pub had served its last pint in early 2000 and the site had become a magnet for fly-tippers and anti-social behaviour.

The council had served a number of notices on the landowner and, before it was knocked down, officers took enforcement action because fly-tipping had left the site infested by rats.

Last year, the council served a compulsory purchase order, which meant the owner had to sell the site to City Hall.

That set the wheels in motion for the council's latest social housing project, which will be led by Broadland Housing Association.

And at a meeting of the council's cabinet on Wednesday, July 7, the cabinet agreed to appoint a contractor to build the homes.

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Planning permission is already in place for five homes to be built on the site and work is due to start this summer.

The costs have not yet been made public, but officers said the availability and cost of materials - due to Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic - meant they would be higher than estimates made 12 to 18 months ago.

Gail Harris, the council's cabinet member for social housing, said that was in common with many projects and gave the example that the price of timber had soared 80pc in six months.

Gail Harris, Norwich City Council cabinet member for social housing. Pic: Archant Library.

Gail Harris, Norwich City Council's cabinet member for social housing. - Credit: Submitted

But she said the council's actions over the Kings Arms site should be a warning to other landowners who do not develop sites.

She said: "This should be seen as a marker to other stalled sites.

"The process of compulsory purchase is not a quick one, but as a council we will, when appropriate, take this course of action..

"This project is a proactive move that meets the council’s priorities of building and maintaining good-quality social housing to meet demand.

“It also creates an opportunity to repurpose and adapt a vacant and dilapidated building into something positive for Norwich residents.

“It’s another really great development for the city and addition to our growing housing stock.”

The council also acquired the house next door to the pub, which was a former council home, sold under the right to buy scheme.

That will be kept by the council as part of its housing stock, with part of the garden being used to improve access to the Kings Arms development.

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