Thetford regeneration decision due

A contentious scheme to regen-erate a town centre site in Thetford could be given the green light in a matter of days when the issue goes before planning officials.

An application by Breckland Council to demolish the derelict Anchor Hotel and redevelop the site on a larger footprint has been recommended for approval by officers.

The issue is set to be discussed at a meeting of the council’s planning committee on Monday.

If given the go-ahead, the scheme could include a 62-bedroom hotel, three-screen cinema, 64 parking spaces and five units dedicated to shops, restaurants or caf�s.

The proposal is not without its objections, however, and a number have suggested the design is out of keeping with the area.

One, lodged by the Thetford Society, called the proposed build-ing “diabolical”, and said it was “at odds” with others on the site.

Meanwhile, Thetford Town Council asked for the “heart” of the Anchor to be retained, adding it backed the “mixed use” scheme but with at least 40pc retail.

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A statement by English Heritage said it had no objection to demolishing the former hotel, but added: “We do however have some concerns over the scale of the redevelopment and conclude that it will result in a degree of harm to the character and appearance of the conservation area.”

It accepted that this needed to be weighed against the wider public benefit, and concluded that “in this specific instance the gains may well outweigh the harm”.

The revamp project for the riverside area comes after Norfolk county councillors approved the relocation of the bus station from Bridge Street to St Nicholas Street earlier this year.

A report by officers to go before next week’s meeting said that they believed the proposal complied with relevant planning policies and added: “The proposed mixed use provides a range of facilities which are appropriate for the town centre location and whilst there are some concerns relating to the scale of the proposal, the public benefits outweigh these concerns.”