£1m vision for Dereham Maltings

Euan Macpherson, of the Crisp Malting Group

Euan Macpherson, of the Crisp Malting Group - Credit: submitted

A £1m investment will see an historic landmark brought back to its former glory.

Bosses at Great Ryburgh-based Crisp Malting have revealed that they plan to bring Dereham Maltings on Norwich Road back to life to produce malt for craft beer.

The grade II-listed building, formerly known as F&G Smith Maltings, closed in 2000 and has since been left disused.

There had been talk that the building, which dates back to the 1800s, would be converted for residential use but Crisp Malting group managing director Euan Macpherson, pictured, said the increased demand for malt for craft beer has led them to the decision to restore the maltings for its original purpose. Under the plans, some of the buildings will also be converted into housing.

Mr Macpherson said: 'It's very early stages but it's a big site there and we could offset some of the costs we need to spend on bringing the maltings back into life by developing some housing there.

'As it's a grade II-listed building, we have to maintain it anyway and it would be wonderful to give it a new lease of life. With the upsurge in the last few years of craft beer brewing, there is a growing demand for malt which makes reopening the maltings worthwhile. The building is right in the middle of town, it's a perfect location, and we could have some little craft brewers on site.'

It is not yet known when the maltings would reopen and how many jobs it would create but Mr Macpherson said it would take at least £1m of investment to bring the building back into use.

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As reported, Crisp Malting has become a big player in the global malt export market. The firm, based near Fakenham, supplies 70pc of the Japanese small brewery market, while exports to America, Italy and Spain have also strengthened.

In 2013, about 14pc of its national malt production was exported overseas – the equivalent of 130,000 tonnes – with the majority of its barley going to the distilling industry.

News that the firm plans to restore Dereham Maltings has been welcomed.

Town mayor Tim Birt said: 'It's tremendous news. The maltings has been a little bit of a blot on the centre of our town for some time. It's an iconic building and a core part of Dereham, and hopefully now it's going to be brought back to life.

'There is also the prospect of new jobs which is what Dereham is crying out for to make it sustainable.'

The red brick building, which features cast-iron columns made in Dereham, is considered to be one of the finest examples of a surviving maltings in the country and is on English Heritage's 'at risk' register.

Sue Walker White, chairman of Dereham Antiquarian Society, said: 'The building was slowly decaying so to bring it back to its original use has got to be good thing for it, Dereham's heritage and the town all round.

'Dereham is lucky it has got one of the best surviving maltings buildings and not only does it encapsulate Dereham's malting heritage but also it has some of the best examples of the town's metal foundry. It's brilliant news, it's history brought back to life again.'

Are you investing in Dereham? Email kate.scotter@archant.co.uk

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