Restoration plans for fire-hit town centre buildings set out by owners
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Work to restore historic buildings in the centre of Halesworth after a devastating £1.8 million blaze which left five businesses homeless has taken a step forward.
East Suffolk Council has received plans for major repairs to the Grade 2-listed newsagents at the heart of the fire in Market Place.
Earlier this month, Stephen Wilson, 32, of Poppy Close, Loddon, was found guilty of arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered after starting the fire in a flat above the DC Patrick newsagents after a row with his pregnant girlfriend who walked out on him.
The fire on June 11 last year left the building and neighbouring premises known as The Mansion House both declared structurally unsafe.
Ipswich Crown Court was told the cost of rebuilding the premises containing the newsagents was estimated to be £725,000 while the cost in relation to loss of stock, cash, computers and business interruption was estimated at more than £276,000.
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The estimated rebuilding cost of the Mansion House and loss in respect of computers and business interruption was estimated to be £800,000.
Remedial work was carried out in the aftermath of the fire in liaison with the council conservation officer to remove debris and shore up the building to prevent further collapse and make it safe. The newsagents’ roof was lost and substantial damage caused inside.
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Now plans have been submitted to reinstate the property, with a new roof, and following a period of drying to areas which suffered water damage, external repair and decoration work and internal strengthening to floor beams and installing of new joists and studwork will be done.
The building dates back to the 15th and 16th century and a Heritage Statement submitted to the council said “great care has been taken to retain the most significant features”.
On behalf of DC Patrick, Rossi Long Consulting said: “Overall, the building sustained significant loss and damage as a direct result of the fire.
“Structural elements previously intact although already weakened by decades of previous adaptations, building alterations and age related defects such as insect infestation and rot, succumbed to the additional stresses imposed during and after the fire and now exhibit varying degrees of failure.
“The loss of much of the roof has exacerbated the extents of damage allowing rain to enter the building and damp / mould to develop within elements of the historic fabric. “The proposed works are therefore wholly necessary to restore the integrity of this heritage asset, reinstate the Halesworth Conservation Area street scene and return full amenity to the local area, benefitting surrounding businesses.”