Uncertain future for Diss club

Grassroots Tories have reiterated their commitment to demolish their south Norfolk headquarters for housing, despite a legal challenge by its tenants.

District councillors approved controversial plans for a flats development at the side of the Mere at the South Norfolk Conservative Association site in Diss last summer.

But demolition work at the Grasmere building will not go ahead until the resolution of county court proceedings after members of the Grasmere social club, which is home to a number of community groups and ex-servicemen's clubs, applied for a renewal of their lease.

The club, whose 20-year lease expired at the venue in Denmark Street at the turn of the year, have questioned the Conservative association's commitment to demolishing the 1960s building for 14 flats.

But officials from the local Tory group said the project was 'inevitable' and both parties were still waiting for a trial date, pencilled in for November, at the county court. However, the matter may still not be resolved in time for the 2011 district council elections next spring.

Christopher Kemp, deputy chairman of the South Norfolk Conservative Association, said he was confident they could prove to the court that the association has arrangements in place to carry the work out.

'We are a bit frustrated about it because our lawyer and their lawyer are running on a taxi meter and the more it goes on the more we have to pay them, but we have to see it through to the end.'

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'It is costing a great deal of time and even more of their members' money and our members' money. I do not think anything physical will happen until well into next year,' he said.

Mr Kemp said the money from the development would help fund a new headquarters somewhere in the constituency and offices for South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon. Future fundraising would be spent on 'winning elections rather than maintaining buildings'.

He added that although councillors approved the scheme last year, the development only received planning permission four months ago after a deal was agreed to give up a 1.5metre strip of land for a future walkway around Diss Mere.

No one was available from the Grasmere Club last night. The flats development at Grasmere was opposed by town leaders and a petition signed by 1,200 people last year.