Fakenham eyesore could be compulsorily purchased

33 Oak Street, which North Norfolk Council could compulsorily purchase. Picture: Chris Bishop

33 Oak Street, which North Norfolk Council could compulsorily purchase. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

North Norfolk District Council is seeking to use compulsory purchase powers for the first time in a bid to bring 33 Oak Street back into use.

The two-bedroomed, end-terrace Victorian house has been empty and neglected for more than seven years, according to NNDC strategic director Steve Blatch.

The owners had ignored repeated approaches by the council which wanted it improved or sold so that it could be lived in once more. On Monday, NNDC’s cabinet will be asked to give its officers authority to apply for a Compulsory Purchase Order from the Secretary of State, if the owners refuse to sell to the council voluntarily.

It is understood the former owner died and a beneficiary or beneficiaries are now looking after the house.

Tom FitzPatrick, NNDC leader, said compulsory purchase was the council’s last resort but in this case it was needed to break the deadlock.

“This house is a blight. It’s in poor condition and it’s on a main road. Every bus going into Fakenham goes past it,” he said.

“There have been several complaints about it to local councillors. If a building is in a poor state of repair it can cause vermin or collapse problems for its neighbours and we have a responsibility to do something about it.”

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The house is opposite Fakenham Library and next door to Fakenham Methodist Church.

In December 2012 the council set up an enforcement board, pooling the expertise of officers in departments including housing, legal and environmental health as it sought to tackle the problem of long-term empty homes throughout the district.

Since then it had dealt with 127 cases, resulting in positive action in all but six, according to Mr Blatch.

Successes have included another Oak Street property in Fakenham, number 57.

The former flower shop, paints store and flat had been empty for more than 20 years and was a notorious eyesore.

After prompting by the council its owner sold it, and it has since been restored and is back in use.