Farms, former rail lines and old buildings set to be sold off by council

Holt Hall environmental and outdoor learning centre has been much-loved by families for generations

Holt Hall environmental and outdoor learning centre has been much-loved by families for generations - Credit: Archant

Farms, roads, disused buildings and former railway lines are among some of the assets Norfolk County Council is planning to "sell off" in a bid to save £1.7m by 2022.

The list appears in a report to a council cabinet meeting on December 7, where the proposed "disposals" will be discussed and either approved or rejected.

Here are the main assets on the list:

Holt Hall, Holt

The most contentious item on the list by far is Holt Hall in North Norfolk, a grade II listed property which was acquired by Norfolk County Council in 1946.


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Though there has been fierce backlash about the potential closure of its outdoor education centre, the report says the capital receipt for the site "will be in excess of £1.25 million" - and that no profitable, alternative use for it has so far been found.

The council has conceded, however, that "disposing" of Holt Hall may draw public ire on account of the "significant emotional connection" local people have to the site.

The Railway Cottage, Great and Little Plumstead

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Also on the list is The Railway Cottage in Great and Little Plumstead in Thorpe End.

The council compulsorily bought this land in 2015 to be used as a site office for the Northern Distributor Road project after the resident family successfully argued the NDR would cause a blight on their property.

The council offered a purchase price of £370,000 alongside disturbance costs and a home loss payment of £37,000.

The house which stands in the way of the Norwich Northern Distributor Road getting built in Thorpe End

The house which stood in the way of the Norwich Northern Distributor Road getting built in Thorpe End - Credit: Mark Bullimore

But just three years later in 2018, the site had been declared "surplus" to council use.

Children and adult social services have been exploring ways to reuse the property, but if these do not come to fruition, the report recommends selling the site on the open market.

Land at Newman Road, Rackheath 

This small stretch of land was acquired as part of the NDR project, but has now been identified as "surplus" to the scheme. 

Land at Reepham Road, Drayton

This land, of 2.15 acres and acquired for the NDR project, has also been declared "surplus". However, there is interest from adult social services to "ascertain its potential".

If that fails, the recommendation is to dispose the site by open market sale through auction or tender.

Work on the Norwich Northern Distributor Road. Picture: Nigel Pickover

Work on the Norwich Northern Distributor Road - Credit: Nigel Pickover

Manor Road, North Walsham

The property, which has been declared "surplus" by children's services, is no longer needed for NCC service use either. It is proposed the site is sold on the open market. 

County Farms Estate

The cabinet member for property is recommending the disposal of land and barns at county farms across the following Norfolk parishes: Brisley, Litcham, Terrington St Clement, Stow Bardolph and Southery because they are "surplus to county council requirements".

Highway sites

The same is true of three former highway sites at Erpingham, Repps with Bastwick and Swaffham, with the Repps site constituting a "former railway line" adjacent to the A149.

The report says: "The council's property portfolio includes several land parcels that were acquired by NCC for highway schemes but not directly utilised."

While the report adds that the savings in property costs from selling off highway sites is small, it can build up substantial capital receipts over time.

Since 2016, disposing of such sites has raised over £1m. It also saves money spent on fly-tipping and other "grounds maintenance".

Norfolk County Council at County Hall in Norwich

Norfolk County Council at County Hall in Norwich - Credit: Archant

Why does the council sell off its assets?

In the report, cabinet member for commercial services and asset management Greg Peck says the county's economic "well-being" is dependent on the "exploitation" of assets the council no longer needs - and which cannot be reused.

He adds that, where possible, the council wants to "reduce the number of buildings it uses", and "share" property assets with public sector partners rather than maintain and pay for property themselves.

Greg Peck, Conservative candidate for Reepham. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

Greg Peck, Norfolk County Council member for asset management - Credit: Norfolk Conservatives

Through this "single estate approach", the council hopes to reduce annual property expenditure by £1.7million over the next two years.

Mr Peck said: "One of the key strategic actions within the Asset Management Plan is a sharp focus on maximising income through adoption of a more commercial approach to property."

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