Talks on fire-hit Wells site

PUBLISHED: 13:13 05 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:16 07 July 2010

Town councillors at Wells have spoken publicly for the first time about their ideas for a building to replace the former Gray's amusement arcade on the town's quayside.

Town councillors at Wells have spoken publicly for the first time about their ideas for a building to replace the former Gray's amusement arcade on the town's quayside.

It is three years since the arcade and an adjoining shop were severely damaged by a major fire and since then nothing has happened to improve the look of the remains which have stood boarded up.

Over the past three years there have been rumours about its future including one idea that it could become a boutique-style hotel.

It is now in the hands of a firm of surveyors and estate agents and talks are on-going with the Gray family to decide what will happen to the prominent building.

No planning applications have been submitted.

At their meeting on Monday, town councillors were asked to give their views about the site and there were three or four main aspects that they are anxious to see in any future re-development.

They are keen for the building, which stands next to the large former Granary (now residential luxury apartments), to be no higher than three storeys, for it to have commercial uses on the ground floor and residential on the first and second floor.

They would also like any new development of the site to incorporate some natural materials like flint and traditional pantiles.

Some councillors were concerned about a right of way or passageway that leads from Star Yard at the rear of the arcade to the quayside and that there was once a doorway at both ends.

Maggie Ward felt that this should not be ignored and that it would show on the deeds of the property.

Joyce Trett said she welcomed discussion of ideas for the site and felt that it offered an exciting opportunity for a well designed building in such an important site facing the quayside.

“For the past three years people have been complaining about the state of the boarded up arcade and now there appears to be an opportunity for a new build which will be the first time for many years that the quayside will see a replacement frontage building so we need to ensure that we get the right design for such an important area”.

The blaze that destroyed the arcade and the adjoining premises, called The Yellow Shop, in January 2005 was one of the biggest fires to be seen in the town for many years.

It was tackled by about 80 firefighters from stations across Norfolk.

A rare Belgian Gavioli fairground organ housed behind glass at the rear of the arcade survived the major damage.

The crews were praised for their efforts in preventing the flames from spreading around the corner and affecting properties in Staithe Street.

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