Conversion of water tower into home could take step forward

Dereham's historic red brick water tower is due to be turned into a family home. Beside it is the mo

Dereham's historic red brick water tower is due to be turned into a family home. Beside it is the modern concrete water tower. Picture: Archant - Credit: ©Archant Photographic 2009

The planned conversion of a town's old water tower into an unusual home could soon take another step forward.

Constructed in the 1880s, the red brick water tower on Northgate, Dereham, once served thousands of people across the town, stopping them from having to rely on wells.

During the Victorian era and beyond, the Grade II-listed structure's water pressure would have improved sanitation and helped prevent the spread of cholera.

The tower, which went out of use more than 50 years ago, is the oldest of two left in Norfolk built in an Italian Gothic style.

And now, a proposal to transform the building is back under the spotlight after revised plans were submitted to Breckland Council.

The scheme was originally proposed in 2016, when architect Jeremy Stacey applied on behalf of its client to turn the tower into a unique family home.

Council planning officers noted that the conversion works would maintain the character and appearance of the building, thus helping to preserve its long-term future.

A historic building consultant and Dereham Town Council lodged no objections, with the latter commending the applicant's intention to bring such a historic building back into use.

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In June 2016, Breckland's planning committee agreed for the project to go ahead, part of which would see the tower's internal metal water tank removed.

Three-and-a-half years later, the applicant is now seeking to making alternations to the proposal in an attempt to make future living spaces "more accessible and efficient".

According to design documents submitted to the council, the five-floor home would contain four bedrooms - each with its own en-suite bathroom.

A kitchen, living and dining area would feature on the third floor, with an additional sitting room found on the top floor.

Although the removal of some walls and lowering of floors is acknowledged as having a harmful impact on the property, the documents highlight improved access and headroom that would mitigate the effect and benefit occupants.

When the tower was first built there was widespread opposition among residents, many of whom argued it was too expensive.

It was eventually replaced by a modern concrete version, which stands a matter of metres away and overshadows its predecessor