Kings Lynn Civis Society Norfolk

Living Above the Shop

A long running campaign by the Civic Society has been to repopulate the empty flats above the shops, banks and offices in King’s Lynn town centre.  People need places to live, no space that could be used for housing should be empty and no one should be allowed to have a property that is left empty for years.  Out of town housing estates with limited services are planned for the outskirts of town in the near future where the residents will have to drive into town for most of their needs making our congested roads even worse.  So it is wonderful to announce that Freebridge Community Housing have put in a planning application for 48 & 49 High St.  48 is the new Costa Coffee shop and 49 is another phone repair shop. They are in fact part of one building that has been split at ground floor.

Freebridge want to convert floors 1,2 and 3 into 6 one and two bed flats. Access will be from the rear and will not affect the shops at all.  Obviously the ideal tenants will be childfree people without cars. This is to be welcomed and we hope more applications for similar schemes are in the pipeline.  In 1950 almost every flat above a shop was occupied in the whole of High Street and no doubt all the other town centre streets.  When I looked at the local electoral register for 2008 (the last where such details are public) there were, I think, five flats occupied and the rest wastefully empty.

Lynn town centre needs to be lively and busy with a variety of shops, cafes, restaurants pubs and a cinema and theatre.  People living above the shop makes the town seem safer, makes the streets lighter and brings revenue to local businesses. Well done Freebridge.

For the 2012 Civic Day we followed the same theme but laid emphasis on the number of empty flats above shops in our town centre, or spaces above shops which could be turned into accommodation.

Delving into the Electoral Registers, we found that in 1950 there were 66 voting residents living in 24 flats in just half of our High Street.  By 2004 there were just nine voting residents in the whole of the High Street.

Registered charity no. 298916
Contact details
Alison Gifford
19B Queen Street
King's Lynn
PE30 1HT
01553 763983
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