Images showing how a regenerated site in the heart of Thetford could look have been revealed to the public for the first time.

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The town’s riverside area, off Bridge Street, could be transformed with a hotel, cafés, restaurants and a cinema if planning permission is granted.

At yesterday’s design consultation, artists’ impressions revealed potential materials, designs and uses for a proposed new building.

This followed a meeting earlier in the year with key community groups, schools, businesses and stakeholders at which people offered opinions on the scheme.

Breckland Council development co-ordinator Kevin Cooper said he believed those views had been taken into account and added: “It became obvious to us people wanted traditional materials and we’re comfortable with how the scheme now looks – we believe it reflects the views of the people.

“We’ve had people in today saying it needs to happen and it’s good for Thetford because it brings in life and investment to the town – the overview is perhaps better than we thought.”

The plans, displayed in a mobile bus at the Bridge Street car park, showed a three-storey, 64-room hotel sat above cafés and restaurants, adjacent to a two-storey, three-screen cinema which would occupy the land of the former Anchor Hotel.

Entrance to the hotel, which would face the river, would be to the back of the building, alongside 64 car parking spaces.

A new grass area would be created which people could reach via steps from the café terraces, while a new riverside walkway would link existing routes. Pitched roofs would be included in the overall design and grey gault bricks to reflect existing traditional buildings within Thetford.

Architect Rupert Kitchen, of Norwich-based LSI Architects, said many aspects of the building resonated with those which stood in its place 200 years ago.

He added: “A lot of people in Thetford just want traditional buildings and my argument is you don’t try to recreate a traditional building, you create a new building which complements others around.”

The scheme, which will follow the relocation of the town’s bus station, currently on the Bridge Street site, to an area between St Nicholas Street and Minstergate, had been objected to by some residents, but Mr Cooper said the response had been mixed throughout the day.

A planning application is expected to be submitted within the next eight weeks.

rebecca.gough@archant.co.uk

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