UPDATE: Owner of Dereham charity shop gutted by fire says he’s frustrated by delays
13:59 09 January 2013
© Archant Norfolk 2013
The future of a burnt-out charity shop and a damaged neighbouring fish-and-chip restaurant in Dereham town centre is still unclear after the owner said his wish the get the site cleared was being stalled by his insurers and the council.
Fierce fire broke out at the People for Animal Care Trust (Pact) store on Norwich Street at about 10pm on Thursday, December 6, and carried on into the early hours of the next morning.
The store was part of a business and residential redevelopment proposal for Norwich Street put forward to Breckland Council by mid-Norfolk entrepreneur Basil Todd who owns the building.
Mariners fish-and-chip restaurant, at the back of the shop on the Cowper Road car park, has been closed since the blaze after the fire caused between £5,000 and £6,000 worth of damage to the electrics. Some £10,000 of unused stock was also left in the walk-in freezers.
Ken Niazi, owner and director of the restaurant, said: “Workers are concerned. It should have been sorted from day one. I have got a lot of customers. Nothing has shifted.”
Nine people, including Mr Niazi, are employed at the restaurant.
The Mariners building is also owned by Mr Todd and was included in the planning application, but Mr Niazi has said he has not heard from the businessman about what will happen to the business.
George Rockingham, co-founder of Pact, based at Woodrising, said it was unclear when the former charity shop building would be demolished.
It is currently surrounded by scaffolding, is boarded up and the roof has been removed.
He said: “We are still not allowed in the building. It is still unsafe. I should think it will be pulled down but I don’t know when.”
But earlier today Mr Todd told the EDP that his “hands were tied” until his insurance company and Breckland Council gave him to go-ahead to proceed with demolition.
“I have heard nothing from the insurance company so I have no permission to pull the building down,” he said. “It is in a very dangerous state but nobody seems bothered about that. I have men ready and waiting to start work as soon as they say we can. I also have to have written permission from the council to take it down. It is a disgrace, a mess, but it is not me holding the job up. There is five tonnes of rubble sitting precariously on top of one column and if that fell down it could really injure someone.”
He also said that Breckland Council have asked him to resubmit his application to demolish the building and redevelop the site.
“That is a waste of time because it will be the same as before,” he said. “There is no way the fish and chip shop can open at the moment but at the same time I have no rents coming in. I would love to have that site cleared. It is very frustrating.”
A new Pact store selling designer labels, retro and collectable items should be opening on Dove Street, Norwich, on Tuesday, January 15. Another shop will be opening on 16 Norwich Street, Fakenham, on Monday, January 14 selling furniture, clothes and bric-a-brac. The charity has other shops in Colman Road, Witard Road and Anglia Square, in Norwich, as well as in Watton.
A week after the crash, following a fire investigation, area manager for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service David Ashworth said the blaze was being treated as accidental.