Owner of Earlham House flats responds to criticisms

The firm behind contro-versial plans to refurbish the Earlham House complex, in Norwich, which also mean 40 tenants face eviction, has today defended its plans.

As previously reported, Bellgold Properties, which owns the freehold, has been given permission to replace windows and doors and enclose balconies at the 84-flat complex.

But the firm says its plans for the complex do not include 40 of its tenants, who face eviction in less then two months. Of the other flats, 20 are unoccupied and 20 privately-owned.

This has led to widespread condemnation and the setting up of a State (Standing Together Against The Evictions) campaign to support those who face eviction.

Now, in a statement submitted to the Evening News, David Heath, of Bellgold, has urged people to focus on the 'positive'.

He said: 'Following numerous complaints from residents concerning the lack of insulation, lack of heating and general facilities including the size of the kitchens, the local authority have issued enforcement notices which legally require us to redress these issues.

'We understand the main issue for our tenants is that the rents at Earlham House are lower than is generally available in the local market. We understand that the cost of heating the un-insulated flats can result in electricity bills of in excess of �100 a month. Savings made will mitigate the benefit of the low rents.

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'Clearly, the reason for the low rents is the poor standard of the flats which are now technically uninhabitable. A number of long-standing tenants have expressed an interest in returning to Earlham House when the flats have been refurbished and we will do everything we can to help them achieve this, although it is not our present intention to retain the flats. The flats that we acquire will be sold for owner occupation or to Buy to Let investors.'

The positive aspects, he said, include:

32 unoccupied flats will be brought back into use and 'will be amongst the most affordable in the locality'.

Heating and insulation will be updated.

14 local tradesmen taken on.

The company is investing a seven figure sum in Earlham House.

Commercial tenants 'should benefit ultimately from a much improved environment which should enhance the prospects for their trading'.