Thetford clock tower plan approved

Plans for a new clock tower in the heart of Thetford have been approved by planning officials.

Given the go-ahead by Norfolk County Council, the structure will form part of wider plans to refurbish the square in King Street.

While these are set to get under way later this year, the demolition of a 4.3 metre brick wall/archway, between King Street and St Giles Lane, and the creation of the new clocktower was considered separately.

This will consist of a seven-metre-high timber arched frame with modern bronze tower bells, lighting and hedging, inspired by historic etchings of the former St Giles church. The bells will be a celebration of Thetford’s lost bell foundries.

A report by officers to go before the council, which recommended the plans were approved subject to certain conditions, said: “The development is an improvement to the local environment and an investment in the vitality and viability of Thetford Town Centre which will make a positive impact on the character and appearance of the conservation area.”

It went on: “The proposal is designed to create a distinctive local landmark and improve pedestrian access from St Giles Lane through into King Street.

“It is designed for access by all members of the community and therefore is an improvement to the town centre environment.

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“The proposal will transform the character of the King Street Square part of the conservation area, removing the intrusive and inappropriate 1960s brick archway and replacing it with a crafted landmark which is inspired by the history of the site.”

Work on the Town Centre Enhancement Scheme, funded by Moving Thetford Forward and led by the town council, is set to transform an area outside Boots.

This would become a public performance area with a stage and terrace where drama groups and brass bands could hold stage performances and shoppers could relax.

Work is expected to take 15 weeks to complete and a competition to give the project an official name is due to be launched later this year. The scheme is part of wider plans to regenerate the town centre by moving the bus station and transforming its existing site.