A developer is fighting a council's refusal of their bid to tear down a significant historical building and replace it with a 'hideous' apartment block.

Last year, Breckland Council rejected a scheme that would have seen the demolition of Beechurst and the construction of 18 apartments on Commercial Road in Dereham.

But now the applicant - listed as Buck Estates Pension Fund and Saprest Properties Pension Fund - has appealed that decision to the planning inspectorate.

As it stands, the main two-storey building on the site - situated between the Glendower House guesthouse and an existing apartment complex - is used as an office by recruitment firm Jark PLC.

In July last year, when Breckland Council refused the plans officers said the loss of Beechurst and the proposed apartment block would have "a detrimental impact on the historic core of Dereham".

Additionally, the design, scale and appearance of the new building was considered "unacceptable". 

Ever since the plans were first submitted, in August 2022, they had faced strong opposition from local residents and councillors.

Dereham Town Council said the existing building had "great architectural interest" and the apartment block would be overdevelopment of the site and not in keeping with the area.

Breckland Council's flood and water management team objected over lack of an acceptable flood risk assessment and surface water drainage strategy.

Councillor Alison Webb, who represents Neatherd ward on Breckland Council, said Beechurst is "a widely recognised historical beautiful building in Dereham which deserves protection against demolition and replacement with characterless buildings such as those being proposed".

A better solution would be the renovation of the existing building into apartments, she said.

Her sentiments were echoed among the 42 comments sent to the council by neighbours of the site.

One resident said the designs were "hideous" and another said it would be "devastating to the town's heritage".

The applicant has now appealed to the planning inspectorate.

Beechurst is an unlisted building with 19th century origins and a large extension dating to the late 20th century.