Anger as developer announces plan to demolish old Cromer courthouse and police station

A last ditch attempt has been launched to save one of Cromer's most iconic buildings as demolition plans are revealed.

Developer McCarthy and Stone want to demolish the old police station and courthouse on Holt Road and build a three-storey block of 35 apartments.

The plans were revealed at a Cromer Town Council meeting on Monday evening and were met with anger.

Town councillor Greg Hayman, who was heavily involved with the Cromer Community Development Forum which aimed to see the building on Holt Road turned into a youth venue called The Nick Project, said he would be happy to start a campaign to save the building and said the plans to demolish it were 'deplorable'.

He said: 'I am really unhappy about the plans to demolish the buildings. The buildings themselves have local listing as important historical and iconic buildings.' He said he had inspected the building with the estate agent when looking at other uses for the courthouse and said the building itself was 'extremely well-made with unique features'.

He added: 'It would be awful to pull down the building and build something else. We would implore the builders to maintain the framework of the existing building. There is plenty of room at the back for new build. If they go ahead, there will be a huge outcry in the town.'

Andy Boyce from Cromer Preservation Society said: 'We are unhappy about the plans. It is a striking building on the entrance to Cromer and is nicely designed.'

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A spokesman for McCarthy and Stone said the site was 'ideally located' for accommodation for older people, and said the firm was 'very keen to ensure its design reflects the special architectural qualities of Cromer'.

He said: 'The emerging scheme is proposing to replace the existing on site building, which has been altered over the years, with a sensitively designed new building.

'Initial plans consider the site could accommodate later living apartments, which are specially designed to help older people maintain their independence and include communal facilities and attractive landscaped gardens.

'McCarthy and Stone is committed to engaging with the local community about its proposals for this site and has recently met with neighbouring residents and local stakeholders, to discuss the plans further. A public exhibition is also planned for September.'

Town councillor Keith Johnson, speaking on Monday, said: 'To my mind it is an iconic building for Cromer. There's an awful lot of land to the side and rear. They could easily have included at least the fa�ade in their plans. I think we should fight for it.'

Cromer lost its magistrates court in March 2011 as part of a nationwide cull of 140 courthouses.

The building dates from 1938-39, and, with the former police station next door, was built in inter-war neo-Georgian style.

In 1993 the courthouse was revamped at a cost of �110,000, to provide 'two courts, an office, a waiting room with drinks dispenser and telephone and rooms for lawyers and witnesses'.

Before that the courthouse was in Church Street, opposite the junction with Mount Street in a block that also included a police station, and which later became a youth club.

The previous courts were held at the Red Lion Hotel, and anecdotes recall that the degree of severity of sentencing by the visiting judge was down to the amount of hospitality he enjoyed there after arriving on horseback the previous day.

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