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Thetford hospital plans put on ice

PUBLISHED: 09:33 28 January 2010 | UPDATED: 21:54 07 July 2010

PLANS to knock down an empty community hospital and replace it with new homes have been put on ice after a business owner told how the development could put his livelihood under threat.

PLANS to knock down an empty community hospital and replace it with new homes have been put on ice after a business owner told how the development could put his livelihood under threat.

A scheme to demolish parts of the former Thetford Cottage Hospital and create 13 new homes was blocked by Breckland councillors on Monday after they heard from the owner of a neighbouring snooker hall.

Paul Mossop, who has run the Thetford Snooker Centre in neighbouring Odd Fellows Hall for 24 years, told a committee the development could “jeopardise” his business.

The application, submitted by NHS Norfolk, was to convert the original 19th century hospital in Earls Street into four flats and knock down the more recent extensions to make way for a further nine two and three bed houses and 15 parking spaces.

Breckland's Development Control Committee voted against approving the plans after hearing from Mr Mossop. He told the committee the business attracts large numbers of customers entering and leaving the site until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights, which would cause disturbance to two neighbouring homes on the proposed development whose gardens are just 1.5m from the snooker centre.

He raised fears complaints from these homeowners could leave his business being restricted, potentially crippling his livelihood.

Frank Sharpe, councillor for Swaffham, said: “I have very strong reservations about the location of those houses - in the future this would give the council grief. If I lived in the closest two houses it would not be long before I was writing to the council saying 'what are you going to do?'”

Mr Mossop said: “I have owned the club for 24 years and have friendly relationship with residents and have not caused any problems in that time.

“I am deeply concerned about these houses. I am very worried these houses could jeopardise my business and lose the town an important community facility - and I've had staff for 20 years that could be out of a job.

“It's unjust to put my business at risk.”

The committee's 14 councillors voted unanimously to defer the application so the developers can come back with fresh plans that address their concerns.

John Labouchere, councillor for Hermitage, said: “I thought at first this scheme was brilliant - but the manager of the snooker club has shown he will quite unwilfully be of bother to the new houses.”

Marion Chapman-Allen, councillor for Thetford's Saxon Ward, added: “The snooker club is an extremely well run business and I'm concerned it will suffer.”

The cottage hospital has been empty for almost three years, when health workers were moved to a new £4.5m healthy living centre on the edge of town.

Similar proposals to knock down the entire hospital and build 14 homes were rejected in November 2008 because of the loss of a historic heritage building.

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