Urgent action to protect a crumbling historic Suffolk building is being taken by enforcement officers, with a notice served on the owners.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council has intervened to prevent the Corn Exchange in Haverhill from falling into further disrepair.

The borough council has served a legal notice, which could see it carry out repair work on the building and recovering the costs when the building is eventually sold.

The action has been taken to protect the building ahead of it being sold, with Haverhill Town Council hopeful of buying the premises.

The urgent works notice gives the owner seven days to agree to undertake a list of repairs before the Council intervenes and carries out the work itself.

Paula Fox, borough councillor, said: “We are very pleased that is going to be repaired. The main aim if for it to be brought back into community use.

“I think the local community are very passionate about it being used again. There is quite a need in the town community spaces.”

The building, which lies within the town conservation area, has been on the market for several years. It has been empty for a decade.

Christine Leveson, principal conservation officer at St Edmundsbury Borough. said: “This building is an important part of the history of Haverhill and a well-known local landmark.

“Unfortunately, the sale of the building has been very slow and meanwhile the building is continuing to suffer.

“The council is therefore preparing to use its powers to get the building weather-tight and secure until such time as it is sold.”

A private bid and a bid from the town council are currently being considered by the owners St Felix Roman Catholic Church.

Colin Poole, clerk of Haverhill Town Council, said: “The town council welcomes this decisive action by the borough following months of stalemate with the owners. The town council remains committed to the proposal to purchase this building once the vendor is in a position to sell.

“Making sure the building does not deteriorate any further in the meantime is important both for the town’s heritage and to prevent extra expenditure on refurbishment, should the town council be successful in acquiring the building.”