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Crisis meeting on Fakenham town centre?

PUBLISHED: 16:05 11 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:38 07 July 2010

A public meeting could be held in Fakenham to debate the issue of the current state of the town centre and its growing number of empty shop premises.

Concern about the decline of the core shopping area has been heightened following this week's announcement that the historic market place Crown Hotel is to close next month with the loss of 15 full and part-time jobs.

A public meeting could be held in Fakenham to debate the issue of the current state of the town centre and its growing number of empty shop premises.

Concern about the decline of the core shopping area has been heightened following last week's announcement that the historic market place Crown Hotel is to close next month with the loss of 15 full and part-time jobs.

The closure blow for what is considered to be the town's main hotel comes just weeks after the loss of the large Woolworths store.

Now some of the town's key figures believe the situation has become so serious that it should be debated in a public meeting.

Closure of the hotel, scheduled for March 7, means there will be another large property standing empty in the centre of the town. People are concerned that there are already a number of premises empty, including the old College building on Norwich Street, the old Godfrey's DIY store at the end of Norwich Street and the extensive former Woolworth building in the market place. There are also a number of empty premises in the Miller's Walk shopping arcade.

Town mayor Jayne Cubitt, who has described the closure as a “devastating blow” says she will bring the subject to the agenda of the council's policy and resources committee next week.

Stressing that she was speaking personally, and not on behalf of her council colleagues, Mrs Cubitt said that one idea is to call a meeting of all interested parties so that the whole issue of the decline on the town centre could be discussed and some possible ways forward identified.

Her view is shared by Chamber of Trade president, Stuart Cutler, who has said that the town centre decline and closure of the Crown Hotel was something that needed to be discussed as a matter of urgency.

Mr Cutler, again speaking personally, says he is concerned that the prominent building might stand empty for some time.

“Who is going to take the hotel on in the current difficult economic climate?” he said.

Wildmoor Properties, owners of the hotel, confirmed that it is to close on March 7 but that they were anxious to find a new operator to continue running it as a hotel.

Current tenants Hugh and Sandra Garnish, who previously owned the hotel before selling it to Wildmoor Properities, said that against a background of the current economic climate they had decided to take up an option of a break clause in their lease contract with the owners. They wanted to spend time focusing on their other interests connected to the hospitality industry.

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