Heritage campaigners have welcomed today’s announcement that West Norfolk Council has bought the former Lynn Silos site in a £350,000 deal.
The authority, which says the purchase is being funded from reserves held for investment projects, had been in talks with the site’s previous owners, McCarthy and Stone, over a potential sale for several months.
Alison Gifford, chairman of the Lynn Civic Society, described the announcement as “very good news.”
Earlier, the council’s deputy leader, Alistair Beales, said: “It has been a long-held ambition of the council to see progress on this important, but increasingly derelict, site and we had hoped that the private sector would bring forward development of the area.
“Given this has not happened and the site has languished for some 10 years, the council has bought the site and will develop it in due course.”
The future of the site has been on the agenda ever since the authority blocked McCarthy and Stone’s plans for a retirement flats complex there last year.
The proposal was supported by councillors in July 2014, but refused planning permission in November, because of a dispute over how much the company should contribute towards affordable housing provision.
Although McCarthy and Stone appealed against the decision – and won – the fact it was negotiating a sale of the site to the borough council had been known for more than two months before the inspector’s ruling was published in June.
Shortly before that ruling was announced, however, borough council leaders approved a £100,000 package to fund the development of potential regeneration projects for the South Quay area.
At the time, Mr Beales described the area as an “underused jewel” of the town and claimed development there could have a similar impact to the recent projects in the Tuesday and Saturday Market Places.
He said: “The site does have planning permission and, whilst it is still far from certain, I envisage smaller scale development than previously planned and possibly a mix of ground floor commercial use and upper storey residential.
“The next steps for us are to tidy up the site and take some time to really consider our development options and to view these in line with strategic plans for the area.”
Miss Gifford said the authority’s initial thoughts about what to do with the land accorded with the society’s own vision for the area.
She said: “That’s much more the thing we would like to see, rather than a block of housing.
“The riverside does need some commercial activity to be a livelier place for people to be. We look forward to seeing the plans and commenting on them.”