Thetford cinema and hotel scheme gets green light

Breckland council leader Michael Wassell

Breckland council leader Michael Wassell - Credit: Breckland Council

A multimillion pound scheme which aims to kick start development in a market town has been given the green light by councillors.

Members of Breckland council voted in favour of the plans which could see a cinema, hotel and retail space built next to the river in Thetford.

The proposal, which would also involve homes being built on sites in Mileham and Attleborough, would see the council enter a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with Suffolk-based company Land Group LLP as the council's preferred bidder.

Breckland leader Michael Wassell has called for all councillors to back the scheme which includes the Thetford Riverside project.

He said: 'The timing is great in terms of the opening of the A11 and the Snetterton Biogas plant.

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'Thetford is very much the jewel in Breckland's crown and it is going to grow.

'What we are going to do is make sure Riverside is a place for people to go. We are looking at putting in a hotel and a cinema.

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'There will be nearly 11,000 sq ft of retail space.

'I am urging all councillors to support this.

'Thetford is a destination for may of our residents and this is an opportunity to make sure when they go there are facilities and opportunities for them.'

Mr Wassell said the scheme would bring a number of jobs to the area during the construction phase and once completed.

He added he believed the project would kick start private development in the area and give a boost to Breckland as a whole.

He said: 'The hope is this will kickstart development on the other side of the river, which we don't own.

'The fact there will be a hotel and a cinema will bring people to the area so you might well get restaurants there.

'It is an opportunity to improve the nightlife.'

A full report will be made to the council early next year outlining details of the plans and costs. The project has cost £600,000 so far and will involve a £9m investment in terms of land by the council.

However Breckland have said this project marks the first phase and it will be looking to start more projects should it prove successful.

Breckland hopes construction could start in May 2015 and the project complete by September 2016.

Labour group leader Terry Jermy said: 'I am a young Thetford councillor and I remember growing up in Thetford and when I went to college in Norwich people were amazed I had to travel 30 miles to go to the cinema.

'Thetford is a young town, 25pc of residents are under 16, which is a significant proportion of the population.

'In terms of having a nightlife and night time economy this could be very important.

'I think it has been well thought out and I think it is the right thing to do.'

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