KING’S LYNN: Call on council to buy empty historic house
Lynn Civic Society is calling on West Norfolk Council to seek a compulsory purchase order against the owner of historic Purfleet House in the town.
The society is concerned that the dilapidated Grade II-listed building, adjacent to the landmark Custom House, has now stood empty for more than 20 years with no sign of anything being done with it.
Property developer Roger Gawn bought the prominent building, which was once the home of MP, wine merchant and philanthropist Sir John Turner, in about 1988.
Sir John commissioned the building of the Custom House, which is also owned by Mr Gawn and currently leased to the borough council for use as the town’s tourist information centre, in 1683.
Civic society chairman Alison Gifford said: “We would very much like the borough council to go for a CPO on Purfleet House as that would send out the message that having buildings empty for decades in the centre of town is just not acceptable.”
In July 2008, outraged neighbours took matters into their own hands and set about scraping and repainting doors at Purfleet House claiming they were looking scruffy.
And in March 2009, Ms Gifford said a group of “guerilla artists”, including some civic society members, placed paintings over boarded-up windows along the side of the building to highlight what they described as “an eyesore in the town’s historic heart”.
In total, seven ground floor windows had paintings, ranging from a cow jumping over the moon to a lady playing a piano and a pining pup waiting to be taken for a walk, fixed on the bare boards over them.
Civic society member Ken Hill, who lives in nearby Kings Staithe Square, has long campaigned for something to be done about Purfleet House.
He said: “A CPO has been successfully served on the owner of London House in East Rudham and we are lobbying the council to follow this up with additional servings, such as Purfleet House.”
In 2009, Mr Gawn said he was in “sensitive negotiations” to make Purfleet House part of a major tourist attraction, including a restaurant, wine bar and serviced accommodation.
The Lynn News tried to contact Mr Gawn yesterday to find out his current intentions for the building, but he was not available for comment.
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