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Progress pledge on a Dereham fire-hit shop

PUBLISHED: 14:15 15 August 2014

Owner Basil Todd in front of fire-damaged shop. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Owner Basil Todd in front of fire-damaged shop. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2012

Long-awaited work on a £1m redevelopment of a fire-ravaged shop in Dereham could begin next month after the landowner revealed the demolition of the site should be completed within three weeks.

In the last week, wooden boards have been erected around the site of the former Pact charity shop on Norwich Street which was destroyed by fire in December 2012.

The blaze also damaged the neighbouring former bank and the Mariners fish and chip shop behind, leaving an eyesore in the centre of the market town for more than 18 months.

But businessman Basil Todd, who owns a number of premises along Norwich Street, said his plans are finally set to move forward.

“We put the boards up to protect the site and for health and safety,” he said. “We hope to start the demolition of what remains of the building in two weeks and then start rebuilding work at the end of September.”

Mr Todd has planning permission for three retail units and four flats and hopes to create 40 new jobs for Dereham.

The main retail space is expected to be for a local produce supermarket, with a fashion house upstairs and a cafe.

The development is designed in two distinct architectural styles, with a traditional-looking building proposed for the front, looking out onto Norwich Street, and a contemporary approach for the site fronting Nunns Way.

News that work was set to start was welcomed by town civic and business leaders.

Stephen Cross, secretary of Dereham Chamber of Commerce, said: “Any increase in the selection of shops available for people is good.”

He added: “It’s great that we are having more retail space, which I understand he (Mr Todd) has got tenants for.”

Town mayor Tim Birt said: “It’s welcome news. The 40 new jobs are exactly what Dereham needs and we are delighted to see at least some of the hundreds of jobs we have been calling for come to fruition.

“It’s never nice to see a place that is not only empty but has been destroyed so we welcome the fact that work is going to start and let’s get it tidied up quickly and make our town great.”

What do you think of the plans for the Norwich Street site? Write, including your full contact details, to dft.letters@archant.co.uk.

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