Blow to town's development plans

Hopes for a “prime office” development on the outskirts of Dereham suffered another blow after the plans were put on hold.

Hopes for a "prime office" development on the outskirts of Dereham suffered another blow after the plans were put on hold.

The town had a major setback with the shock announcement by Norfolk PCT last month that it would not be moving its headquarters to new premises next to Breckland Council's offices in Dereham.

Now the council has decided to withdraw the plans to extend its base at Elizabeth House with the 3,500sq m office block, despite saying last week that it was confident it could attract other tenants.

The proposals had been due to be decided on Monday but Breckland building services manager Anthony Wright said the council had put them to one side because of a lack of immediate interest in renting space.

He said: "We have a number of interested parties but they have made it clear they are not ready to go ahead at the moment."

He said that the plans would be resubmitted within the next 12 months when the council had a better idea of which tenants it would attract.

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"We are hopeful that we will find a party to take up the office space but until everything is signed in black and white, we cannot say for sure," he said.

A report on the planned extension said that Dereham Business Park was more suitable for office space and that the building would "enhance the appear-ance of the existing development".

The extension was planned to be three storeys and was to include a new main entrance for the complex, new reception area, new committee suite, meeting rooms, a canteen and extra car parking.

The PCT performed the last-minute U-turn when it snubbed Dereham and decided to instead move from its ageing offices in St Andrew's House on the outskirts of Norwich into accommodation on a number of separate sites in the city.

The favoured option for the PCT to move to new sites in Norwich will cost £1.24m a year, compared to the Dereham option at £1.235m, but within a decade is expected to save the trust £4.8m, compared to £4.3m if it moved to Dereham.

When the PCT announced it was not moving to Dereham, local councillors expressed serious concerns and there were fears it could prevent growth, creation and spin-offs for the town.