Aldiss unveils plans to rebuild on site of Fakenham fire

An artist's impression of the new Aldiss building

An artist's impression of the new Aldiss building - Credit: Archant

Here's how a new Aldiss store in Fakenham town centre is expected to look after the previous store was destroyed by a blaze which also ripped through seven flats and two neighbouring shops two years ago.

Fire in Fakenham town centre.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Fire in Fakenham town centre.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Now contractors are about to move in to begin redeveloping the site with a three-storey Georgian-style building in keeping with the historic square.

Aldiss company secretary Tim Summers said: 'It is nearly two years to the day that the former Aldiss fashion store and an adjacent building were destroyed by fire.

'The process has been long and frustrating at times but we now have everything in place. The site and access to it will unfortunately cause some inconvenience in the town but we will aim for the rebuild to run as smoothly as possible and be completed to timescale. We would to thank all those involved in the process up to now and particularly the town council and market traders for their co-operation and assistance to ensure the site can continue to be in use on Thursday market day.'

Mr Summers said the contractor, Norwich-based Draper and Nichols, planned to be on site from Tuesday, May 31.

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'The initial work will involve some site clearance and an archaeological survey,' he said. 'Once this is complete the rebuild of the store can start in earnest.

'The project is planned to take about a year to complete with the Original Factory Shop returning in 2017.'

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Fakenham mayor Adrian Vertigan said: 'It's brilliant news the work's going to start.

'There's been a big gap in that area of the town for such a long time. The lifeblood of the town will come back, it's really good news.'

Part of the market will be moved elsewhere on the Market Place from Tuesday, June 2.

From that date the weekly Thursday road closures in the centre of Fakenham will begin at 5am, instead of the current 9am.

The town council believes this will make the Market Place and surrounding streets safer for both traders and shoppers.

Fourteen fire crews from across north and west Norfolk fought the flames on May 25, 2014, watched by a large crowd.

The fire, which broke out at around 10.15am, was later blamed on an electrical fault.

Two people were rescued from flats above the store. They were treated for smoke inhalation, while a makeshift evacuation centre was set up in the nearby Fakenham Connect building.

Neighbouring traders said they heard explosions inside the shop, before the plate glass windows in its frontage blew out.

Smoke could be seen from miles away, as fire crews pumped water from the River Wensum to battle the flames.

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