Councillors agree to extend and sell off cemetery lodge despite local opposition
- Credit: Archant
Town councillors have voted to apply to extend the former Dereham Cemetery Lodge and sell it despite strong opposition.
Local people have described the lodge on Cemetery Road as "magical and quaint" and want it preserved.
Its long-term tenant left in June and the town council is looking at options for its future.
The lodge currently has two bedrooms and would need refurbishment to make it suitable for re-use.
There are five options and councillors agreed "there was no foreseeable use which the council might use the lodge for and therefore felt that disposal was the best option."
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The social and welfare committee voted to apply for planning permission for an extension so it has three "decent sized bedrooms and living space" and then to market the property.
Architects would be appointed to come up with a design which is "sympathetic to the existing building and its setting and with the aim to enhance the beauty of the lodge not detract from it."
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Councillors said that when the building is sold, covenants and conditions should be placed on it to protect its setting.
This newspaper ran a poll asking readers what they think should happen to the lodge.
Fifty one per cent voted to refurbish and relet it, 15pc agreed with what the councillors' are proposing, while 13pc of votes went for selling it as it is or finding another use for it.
Five per cent said it should be extended with another property in the garden and three per cent said it should be refurbished and sold.
After the news about the lodge was first reported, Rosie Hawes said on our Facebook page: "There is only one reason why they are trying to get planning permission to make it into a four-bedroom house. It's because it will only be a matter of time before they will take away the gravestones and put up a housing estate."
Bill Raper called for it be protected as a listed building while Alison Phillips suggested starting a petition - an idea which was supported by others.
Nearby resident Sam Day said: "We live a stone's throw away and take the kids on their bikes here often. It's almost magical and quaint - why extend? It's beautiful the way it is. Rent it out cheap to someone who wants to watch out over the grounds."