Plans for library 'should be shelved'

Plans to turn the old Dereham library into 10 homes should be put on hold, town councillors have warned after describing the planned houses as “too much like Swiss ski-chalets”.

Plans to turn the old Dereham library into 10 homes should be put on hold, town councillors have warned after describing the planned houses as “too much like Swiss ski-chalets”.

Councillors will tell Breckland District Council, which will make the final decision, they fear that the proposals for buildings with sky lights and wooden cladding, would not fit in with the rest of the brick properties on Church Street.

Philip Duigan, town councillor, said: “The idea of changing the site into flats doesn't worry me too much. I think a lot of councillors would have preferred a mixture of commercial and residential.

“The properties would be going next to an old brick building and they wouldn't look right together. The plans are very much of a Swiss ski-chalet. They don't fit in with the area and we would like to see some changes made.”

The 1960s library building in Church Street has been empty and fallen into disrepair since it closed in November 2005 when the new £1.9m library opened in the High Street.

Norfolk County Council's plans for the site outline two two-and-a-half storey blocks of housing units, including seven with two bedrooms and three with one bedroom. There would be no parking as part of the development.

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The application describes the old library as having “no architectural or historic value” and it “detracts from the character of the conservation area.”

And yesterday Robin Goreham, who represents the area where the old library is situated, said he was worried people were not looking at previous recommendations made by the district council.

He said: “In 2004 the council released a report about retail and the town centre. In that document it stated that should certain sites be available they would make prime places for retail.

“The old library was one of those mentioned. It then went on to say that if more business space wasn't kept in the area traders would move elsewhere.”

During the town council meeting on Tuesday night councillors also discussed four shops in Aldiss Court being changed into office space for Broadland Housing Association.

Some local traders are concerned that the removal of more shop space could lead to fewer visitors and less business to the town centre.

But councillors are convinced the move will only serve to benefit business.

Mr Duigan said: “There has always been a problem keeping shops filled long-term there. I think it would be better to have the space filled but with offices rather than vacant shop space.

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