Tesco cash will help pay for renovation of Swaffham’s historic Buttercross
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One of Swaffham’s most prized heritage landmarks is set for a much-needed facelift, which will be part-funded by the town’s new supermarket development.
The Buttercross has commanded the centre of the Market Place ever since the Earl of Orford built it in 1783 to hold a butter mart – but the historic monument is starting to show its age.
The dimly-lit Grade I listed building has cracked plaster on its columns and its steps have become damaged.
Swaffham Town Council has commissioned local architect Jeremy Stacey to draft designs which will restore those elements, but also enhance the monument’s wider appeal with the addition of new seating and lighting.
No final budget for the work has yet been set, but town clerk Richard Bishop said this is one of several projects which will benefit from a share of £225,000 in “section 106” payments, secured from Tesco as part of the planning consent for its store on Castle Acre Road, due to open in June.
Mr Bishop said: “The whole scheme is an enhancement, but a small part will be restoring long-standing issues with the Buttercross – when you look at the steps they are beginning to break up, and the smooth plaster on the wooden columns is starting to crack.
“But at the same time, following the discussions we have had with various groups about the use of the section 106 money, it was thought that we don’t do enough to show off the main focal point of the town – particularly when you come through in the evening, the underneath is lit up, but you cannot see the dome.
“So we are looking at the possibility of adding some subtle lighting like you see on churches, so we can show the building off. We are also looking at the area around the Buttercross in order to ensure it has some better seating and that the cobbled area is in good repair.
“It is the iconic building which everyone associates with Swaffham – we’ve got the Pedlar’s sign and the wind turbine, but the Buttercross is at the top of the list. It identifies Swaffham, and if it is something that draws attention to the fact that we have an active and vibrant town centre, then that is what we want.”
Mr Bishop said the council has already been in discussion with conservation officers at Breckland Council and with English Heritage, to ensure that any work is carried out within the strict regulations protecting Grade I listed buildings.
As the final designs emerge, he hopes the project will attract match-funding from other grant-giving organisations, which could help the Tesco contribution stretch further.