No sign of a buyer for Dereham former swimming pool

An eyesore on the edge of Dereham looks set to remain a thorn in the town's side after the owners admitted there was no sign of a buyer coming forward to transform the site.

The old swimming pool, off Quebec Road, was once one of the area's most-visited buildings, where generations of youngsters threw off their arm bands and local club members honed their skills.

But nearly four years after it was replaced by the new leisure centre on Station Road, it remains an unused blot on the landscape.

District and town councillor Robin Goreham said it was time some progress was made.

He said: 'This has dragged on a while. The original intention was to develop it as a residential site but it has been like that for nearly four years.

'It's long overdue that something was done about that site.'

The old swimming pool is jointly owned by Breckland Council and Norfolk County Council and has been on the market for the past 18 months with Norfolk Property Services.

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But, with a price tag of �1m, it has so far not attracted any bids in that region.

A spokesman for Breckland Council, which entered into a private finance initiative (PFI) deal with Parkwood Leisure to create the new sports centre, said the downturn in the market had stopped developers putting in offers which were considered acceptable by the authority.

She said the council wanted to sell it but would not let it go without getting the best deal for taxpayers.

The spokesman added: 'We've decided it is not best value to sell it below market price.'

At a Big Conversation meeting in Swanton Morley last week about forthcoming service cuts, Norfolk County Council's member for efficiency, Bill Borrett, said the authority was very keen to sell the site.

This week he added: 'The property is surplus to requirements and currently on the market for sale, and I would recommend any potential purchasers contact the land management team at Breckland Council.

'The county council will use any capital receipts of surplus land to protect frontline services.'

The site has outline planning permission for housing which expires in May. Dereham mayor Robert Hambidge said the old swimming pool had become an eyesore and he had seen no progress made on the site since he joined the town council three-and-a- half years ago.

He said he would like to see the land built on and did not understand why, when there were so many housing developments springing up across the town, it had not been snapped up.