Council's order to secure prime site

Breckland Council is preparing to begin compulsory purchasing land in Dereham to build the second stage of the town's shopping centre. The council's vision of the next phase is a plaza, bordered by an L-shaped terrace of shops, which would sit on a 0.

Breckland Council is preparing to begin compulsory purchasing land in Dereham to build the second stage of the town's shopping centre.

The council's vision of the next phase is a plaza, bordered by an L-shaped terrace of shops, which would sit on a 0.11 hectare square of land next to the parade of stores on Wrights Walk and Chapel Walk.

On Monday, officers will ask Breckland cabinet for permission to begin proceedings for a compulsory purchase order (CPO) on the land, which is owned by Gorgate Ltd director Stephen Cross and a second party.

The land borders the successful shopping centre, which is fully let and in its first 12 months attracted an estimated one million people.

The move comes after Breckland's negotiations with the second landowner ran into trouble, because the council could not satisfy their sales terms. But Lloyd Gibson, of Breckland legal services, indicated that the council would continue to negotiate with both landowners and still hoped to reach an agreement to buy the land.

He said the CPO was a safety net: "It would be unfortunate to be months down the line and negotiations break down and we find we were having to start again from scratch."

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Breckland cabinet agreed the principle of compulsory purchasing the land in September, but officers want to make a fresh request before actually starting the process. If the council is forced to take out a CPO, it could mean a delay for work starting on the second part of the shopping centre. CPOs typically take between one and two years and if there are objections the matter could be referred to a public inquiry.

A report before the cabinet on Monday describes the council's negotiations with Mr Cross to buy his share of the land without a CPO as "promising". But speaking yesterday Mr Cross, who has submitted plans to build three shops and 14-flats on his part of the land, said he was committed to building his own development.

The report will be discussed by Breckland at its council offices in Dereham at 2.15pm next Monday.