Traders and locals share vision for future of Diss

Spring sunshine around Diss Mere.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018

Diss Mere - Credit: Sonya Duncan

People living and working in Diss have shared their visions for the future of the market town, including how they would like to see business boosted. 

The south Norfolk town has seen improvements in recent years, including a scheme to regenerate the historic commercial portion of the town known as the Diss Heritage Triangle.

Diss Town Council offices. Picture: Sonya Duncan.

Diss Town Council offices. Picture: Sonya Duncan. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Diss Town Council has also shared proposals to develop the area, which include a second strategic plan that aims to create a "greener, cleaner and safer town", investment for play equipment in Diss Park and a town centre action plan that hopes to make it more pedestrian friendly.

Diss market, which is held every Friday.

Diss market, which is held every Friday. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

Ongoing projects also include the Diss and District Neighbourhood plan, which sees seven parishes working together to allocate housing and protect green spaces, corridors and walking and cycling routes. It is due to go before examination in December.

Here's what business owners, residents and councillors had to say about Diss.

John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk Council 

South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller

South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller - Credit: Rose Sapey

"We were delighted to participate in the market triangle refurbishment a few years ago, and the Corn Hall refurbishment, which has now really made it a destination.

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"Private investment is going in as well and it's a desirable location for residents and commuters.

"It's just a wonderful classic market town, with a wide range of facilities - shopping, transport, and at the heart of East Anglia."

Graham Minshull, South Norfolk councillor

Diss district councillor Graham Minshull and chairman of South Norfolk Council. Picture: Simon Parki

Graham Minshull, South Norfolk councillor - Credit: Simon Parkin

“Diss has a unique character, with a huge range of independent retailers that draw visitors to enjoy the vibrant shopping experience offered by the town, and South Norfolk Council invested £400,000 in the heritage triangle to encourage visitors up through the town and showcase the historic heart of Diss.

“As we now work with our market towns to support the recovery, we know that people value tradition and heritage, but they also want excitement and innovation, and all of our market towns, especially Diss, have the potential to offer this in abundance."

Gloria and Alan Rowe, of Albright of Diss

Gloria Rowe, of Albright of Diss

Gloria Rowe, of Albright of Diss - Credit: Sarah Hussain

"There are so many ways Diss has changed, this end of town (heritage triangle) has improved over the years and a lot of money has been put into the area.

"Diss is filled with interesting independent traders and people enjoy walking around the place.

"We get lots of visitors and people talking about how beautiful it is."

Alie Southernwood, of Just a Label

Alie Southernwood of Just A Label in Diss.

Alie Southernwood of Just A Label in Diss. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

"It is a pretty town and has a lot of different shops, whereas if you go to some towns and cities you get the same shops. 

"Beales has been shut for around a year. It's a shame because it's a big space that is empty.

"I think that should be made into pop-up shops or a craft fair or indoor market.

"The main high street could be tidied up a bit, and a big sign in the middle of the market place could show people how to come into [the heritage triangle]."

Dave and Debbie Down, of a Room with a View

Room with a View in Diss.

Room with a View in Diss. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

"The town has a range of speciality shops and a friendly atmosphere.

"It has become quite vibrant at this end and there's been lots of changes down Mere Street.

"Free car parking would be a really positive thing if they could do that. At the moment it is free for an hour, which means people rush their visit to leave before their parking runs out."

Local historian Dennis Cross

Diss historian Dennis Cross.

Diss historian Dennis Cross. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

"Things have changed, there's quite a few shops empty and most of the pubs are gone too.

"Diss is still a nice little town and we have the Mere. 

"I think there should be more bungalows built around here because there is quite an elderly population. They build these new estates and all are around four bedroom houses. There should be a mixture."

Gemma Brown and Graham Brock, of Myhills Pet and Garden

Gemma Brown and Graham Brock of Myhills Pet and Garden

Gemma Brown and Graham Brock of Myhills Pet and Garden - Credit: Sarah Hussain

"People comment that Diss seems to feel to them 'quintessentially English', and people from all over the country move here.

"It's a lovely town but it's horrible to see the shops closing in Diss. The high street is suffering.

"There also isn't enough amenities. Kids have nothing to do."

Chris Moyse, Park Radio station director

Room with a View in Diss.

Chris Moyse (left) of Diss Park Radio. - Credit: Chris Moyse

"Post pandemic all our market towns, especially Diss, has to tap into its key strength - it's people.

"Economic prosperity and community cohesion need to be the real focus and in generating footfall and tourists.

"Our plan is to expand our work at Diss station involving the local schools and also look how renewables and bio-diversity elements can be included."

Kieran Murphy, town councillor

Kieran Murphy, 18, has become one of the UK's youngest town councillors having joined Diss Town Coun

Kieran Murphy, Diss town councillor. - Credit: Archant

”Diss is a warm and vibrant town with an incredible community spirit which can be seen in everything from the carnival to the Friday market.

"Diss excels in planning for our future by investing in the town’s youth.

"The town council has supported intergenerational lunches, which helps to break down the barriers between the town's young and elderly and also the Diss town youth council.

"I think Diss is an incredible town with exciting potential.”

Rob Hollingesworth, market trader of 40 years

Diss Market trader Rob Hollingesworth

Diss market trader Rob Hollingesworth, who runs a clothing stall. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

"I started in Diss at the age of 15. I love the job and chatting with customers and just watching the world go by.

"It's a lovely market square.

"It would be good to get the high street tidied up more."

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