By REBECCA GOUGH
Friday, April 20, 2012
A variety of ideas were put forward at a meeting to discuss designs for a key town centre regeneration site.
Around 40 people from groups across Thetford met this week to consult on the way the riverside site, off Bridge Street, could look with a new hotel, cinema, shops and restaurants.
Schools, young people, the town council, social enterprise organisations, English Heritage and others were invited to the meeting at the Bell Hotel on Wednesday to talk through a preliminary design showing a four-storey box-like shape.
Talks are already under way with hoteliers, cinemas and restaurant chains to fill the space.
Leader of Breckland Council and chair of Moving Thetford Forward, William Nunn, said: “I think what I found most interesting was that there was no consensus. “Depending on where people came from in terms of heritage, they had a very different take on whether they wanted modern or historic and they young people wanted a very different type of modern building, rather than harking back to days gone by. “They all said they wanted it to be Thetford centric but some said let’s call it something to do with Thetford or make it like that inside.
“I think it gave both sides a chance to understand what’s happening but we came away with lots of different ideas.”
These ranged from using glass or wood to incorporating balconies, curved edges and a viewing platform on the flat roof. They will now be taken into consideration by architects and taken out to public consultation towards the end of May.
Chief executive of Keystone Development Trust, Neil Stott, who also attended the meeting, which was chaired by independent design agency, Shape East, agreed there were many views in the room, but added he believed the project “must happen”.
“It will create lots of opportunities and jobs and re-invigorate the town,” he said. “With the design of any building there’s compromise.
“There are limits to the site with archeology, and flood issues so the envelope to build on is fairly prescribed.
“I can’t say there was a consensus in the room but what it did give the design team was material to go away and come back with some ideas to most of the comments.
“I think no matter what it will be a box shape but how it’s treated in terms of the materials and the roof will come out in the next stage.”
Leader of Breckland Labour party and Thetford town councillor Terry Jermy, said it was “good” to see a large turnout.
“What matters now is how the plans alter because they’ve got to take people’s views on board,” he added. “The vast majority of people said they were adamant they didn’t want a flat roof or cladding and thought it was big and imposing.
“This is so important, we’ve got to get it right.”