Harwich: Anger over town’s “eyesore”

The Harwich Town Residents Association and locals having tea and cake on Market Street in the town t

The Harwich Town Residents Association and locals having tea and cake on Market Street in the town to highlight the fact that the building behind them, 20 Market Street, has been left gutted after a fire one year ago. - Credit: Andrew Partridge

ANGRY residents staged a protest over a burnt-out old town centre building – dubbed “Eyesore of the Year” – with pleas for immediate action a year after the blaze.

Ivan Henderson, Labour councillor for Harwich East ward, has called for a change in the law after delays in demolishing 20 Market Street in Harwich, which was damaged by fire on April 13 last year.

Frustrated residents placed a placard reading “Eyesore of the Year Award – First Prize” on the railings outside the Harwich building in protest over its condition last October.

Mr Henderson praised the protest, attended by around 50 people on Saturday, and revealed planning enforcement officers served the owners a section 215 notice on Thursday.

“They have 28 days to comply with the conditions,” he said. “They must board it up, take away the steel fencing around it and paint it in dark blue colours. But they have then got another month to do it, which means up to another two months before anything is done.

“This is all happening while the discussion between the owners and the insurers goes on. The law needs to be seriously looked at.

“But I am really pleased with the protest which made a bigger issue of this and hopefully now the district council will act.”

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Deborah Rich, secretary of the Harwich Town Residents’ Association, branded the protest a success – and called for “immediate action”.

“It marked a year of inaction,” she said. “It is a terrible eyesore right in the heart of town and the fact that nothing has been done is inadequate in my view. Action needs to be taken immediately.”

Carlo Guglielmi, planning chief for Tendring District Council, who also went to the protest, said that a structural survey has been completed assessing the full extent of the damage caused by the fire.

“We have been informed that the recommendation is that the building should be demolished,” he said.

“Negotiations between the owner, the assessors and insurance company are now nearing completion and a settlement on the insurance claim is imminent.

“But it’s been a year now and it’s not good enough, but hopefully something will be agreed very soon.”

Harwich town councillor David Flavell, who also attended the protest, said: “A notice has been served but it took this day of action to do it. Five different properties in West Street were destroyed in 2011 but new properties have been built there now. The council needs to get a grip on this.”

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