Council to develop new offices

IAN CLARKE A Norfolk council is hoping to create a “prime office” development after the county's primary care trust pulled out of plans to move its headquarters to the site.

IAN CLARKE

A Norfolk council is hoping to create a "prime office" development after the county's primary care trust pulled out of plans to move its headquarters to the site.

Breckland wants to build 3,500 sq metres of accommodation alongside its Elizabeth House base at Dereham and had been hoping the Norfolk PCT would become a tenant.

But last month the cash-strapped trust pulled the plug after performing a shock U-turn and decided to move out of the ageing St Andrew's House offices on the outskirts of Norwich and into accommodation on a number of separate sites within the city.

However, rather than abandoning plans for the extension, Breckland is pressing on with the proposal, and later this month its planning officers will be recommending permission be given.

A statement from Breckland said: "If the planning application is approved, Elizabeth House could become a prime site for office development within an established business park just off the A47. Although the Primary Care Trust will no longer be moving onto the proposed site, Breckland Council is confident that future development could bring further prosperity and economic development to Breckland."

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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 councilors expressed serious concerns and there were fears it could prevent growth creation and spin-offs for the town.

So the decision to continue with the plan should be a boost for the town.

The development control committee will be told the site on Dereham Business Park is suitable for more office space and would "enhance the appearance of the existing development."

The extension would be three storeys high and include a new main entrance for the complex, new reception area, new committee suite, meeting rooms and a canteen.

Extra car parking is also included.

Dereham Town Council

has raised no objections and there has been one local resident expressing concerns about increased traffic

and the height of the new building.

Planning officers will tell members that the new extension would not have a "significant impact" on traffic conditions on local roads and junctions.

There will be plans to encourage walking and cycling to reduce car use.