Group slams 'dreadful' town market place and demands overhaul

Dereham market place. Picture: Ian Burt

Dereham market place. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

A Norfolk town has been described as "unwelcoming" and its marketplace "dreadful" by the working group discussing its future.

Dereham Market Place. Picture: Ian Burt

Dereham Market Place. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

In response to Breckland Council delivering a new Town Plan for Dereham, the town council and aboutDereham have set up a working group to agree on a common approach.

The group, which is made up of four town councilors, four aboutDereham members and is chaired by the mayor, Stuart Green, has created an unofficial list of desirable outcomes it would like to see.

Stuart Green, 27, the new mayor of Dereham, and believed to be the youngest they have ever had.

Stuart Green, the mayor of Dereham, is chairing the working group - Credit: Archant 2020

The list, published in the Dereham Heritage Trust Newsletter by trustee Dr Peter Wade-Martins, states the town centre needs a "very radical revamp".

It continues: "The marketplace is dreadful, some describing it as a disaster area. It has become little more than a large roundabout for buses.

"It all needs to be pedestrianised, both the car parking and the ‘bus station’ need to be moved out of the marketplace to one of the car parks.

"The marketplace should be paved with seats and trees and become a pleasant place to shop and to meet friends.

Dereham market place. Picture: Ian Burt

Dereham market place. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

"The town centre should become a welcoming environment, which it certainly is not now."

The last town plan was published in 1976, when the market place was re-ordered to look as it does now.

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The list also mentions the need for a designated route for a new north/south bypass linked to Swanton Morley to take traffic away from the town centre, new and better town toilets, and more green space in Toftwood.

"This is all a big ask and much of it can only be achieved over the longer term," Said Dr Wade-Martins. "But there is no harm in being ambitious.

Dr Peter Wade-Martins cuts a ribbon to unveil the plaque dedicated to his tenure as first director o

Dr Peter Wade-Martins spoke to a Dereham Town Council meeting about the colouring of the pargetting on Bishop Bonner's Cottage. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

"One member of the group takes the view if you aim for the biggest task first, all the lesser ones more easily fall into place. Others feel we should be more realistic and be less ambitious.

"Perhaps no more than a new vision for Dereham can be achieved at this stage, but we need to start somewhere."

The working group will now create a more formal list to present to Breckland Council.

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