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By Anthony Carroll
Thursday, November 10, 2011
IT was once the talk of the town and a landmark to be proud of.
In the late 1880s, the Tuttles store in Station Square became one of Lowestoft’s most distinctive and prominent buildings, and a popular destination for shoppers from across north Suffolk and beyond.
But more than a century on, the former department store is a shadow of its former self: large parts of the block are unoccupied, and many people regard it as an eyesore and a blot on the landscape.
Now, in an effort to secure improvements, a campaign has been launched, calling for action to tackle what organisers claim is now a civic “embarrassment” that hampers efforts to attract visitors and shoppers.
An online petition has been set up called “Save a part of Lowestoft’s heritage: The old Tuttles building”.
It asks Waveney District Council to force the building’s owners, Elizabeth Holdings, to improve its poor condition. And if this does not happen, it is hoped the council will compulsorily purchase the block and offer it to a developer.
The website petition says: “We consider the state of the building, which has for many years been allowed to fall into an advanced state of disrepair, is to the detriment of the whole town.
“It creates a poor impression on visitors and negated the efforts of the council, inhabitants and traders to present the town centre as a pleasant place to use.”
On Tuesday, some of the petition’s backers, Kevin and Jane Bacon and David and Brendan Mortlock, gathered in Station Square to explain why they felt it was time something was done to improve the building.
As well as demanding something is done to renovate it, the campaigners want local people to be asked by the council what should be done to the site if improvement work ever goes ahead.
Mr Bacon, 62, who lives in Waveney Road and runs the Baconsdozen tool store, said: “I just want to see it as an asset to the town instead of being a liability to the town. It is just a horrid eyesore at the moment.”
David Mortlock, 58, of Normanston Drive, said: “It is just a right awful mess. Something has got to be done about it.”
His son Brendan, 24, said the building was one of the first things people saw if they arrived in Lowestoft by train: “There is a lot that could be done to it and should be done to it. Just leaving it like that is not going to help the area.”
The move to breathe fresh life into the building comes as local shops and businesses throw their weight behind The Journal’s Love Local campaign, which seeks to promote all that is best about where we live.
In response to the petition, Elizabeth Holdings, which has an office in Lowestoft, said it wanted to convert the upper floor of building into flats but was prevented from carrying out any work due to a flood risk assessment.
Chris Trindall, company director, said he shared the campaigners’ frustrations over the state of the building, especially as they had carried out some work on improving the part of the site nearest the Bascule Bridge.
However, he was hopeful there would be “some developments next year” involving businesses moving into the lower tier of the building. Mr Trindall added: “Like everyone, I want to see something done about it.”
The online campaign can be found via Google by searching for “Tuttles petition”.
Shops and businesses interested in our Local campaign should contact our sales representative, Perry Bartram, by ringing him on 01493 335043 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org