Dereham’s demolition ‘disaster’

The former TSB Bank on Norwich Street in Dereham has been demolished. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The former TSB Bank on Norwich Street in Dereham has been demolished. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Historians have lamented the loss of a piece of Dereham's heritage after a former bank was demolished as part of a £2m development – but reassurances have been given that the new building will mimic the original frontage.

The entire former Lloyds TSB building on Norwich Street has come down as part of businessman Basil Todd's plans to build an upmarket food store and retail complex.

Members of the public and the Dereham Antiquarian Society had been under the impression that the building frontage, which dated back to the Victorian period, was to be retained – but Breckland Council planners have said Mr Todd has done nothing untoward and that the wall had to come down for safety reasons.

Emphasis was also put on the need for the new building to replicate the old one which was bulldozed at the end of last week, and that there is a greater need for that part of the town to be redeveloped as quickly as possible.

Sue Walker-White, chairman of the Dereham Antiquarian Society, said: 'It's not the pyramids but If you looked at the building, it was a rather nice bit of work and there were nice details on it. I'm very sad to see it go and it's a disaster heritage-wise for the town.'

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She added: 'If it was unsafe then the workers had made it unsafe because there was nothing wrong with it before and there is no excuse for them making it unsafe.'

Ann Cordery, from Dereham, said: 'When I noticed that the former TSB building was in the process of being demolished I was shocked. It was my understanding from looking at the planning application that the building fronting Norwich Street would be the only building on the site to be retained.'

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Mr Todd, who lives in Welborne and recently bought next door store Palmers, was granted permission for the part demolition and refurbishment of the former bank and next door fire-damaged charity shop last year. Under the plans, the new development will be designed in two distinct architectural styles, with a traditional-looking building proposed for the front, looking out onto Norwich Street, and a contemporary approach for the site fronting Nunns Way.

A Breckland Council spokesman said: 'The plans submitted to the council showed the TSB frontage retained. However, when the demolition work had been carried out the remaining frontage was in an unsafe condition and officers met with the agent on site. The remaining frontage needed to be demolished in the interests of public safety. The former TSB was not a listed building. However, as the development is in a conservation area any redevelopment proposals will have to adhere to the statutory requirement of the town and must preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the area.'

Phillip Duigan, who is on the planning committee and is a town and district councillor for Dereham, said: 'The old bank was not a listed building, just in a conservation area. In a conservation area, the buildings have to enhance the area. We do want that site to be redeveloped and the overall development will enhance the area.'

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