Dereham business park decision set to be made

Empty land off Napier Way, Dereham. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP

Empty land off Napier Way, Dereham. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP - Credit: Archant

A decision is set to be made today on plans to build a new business park in Dereham which could be turned down after council officers warned the 'oppressive' development would have a 'detrimental impact'.

The application to turn an empty former manufacturing site into a office, retail and employment hub was submitted in December 2018 with the hope of creating 100 jobs for the local area.

But the scheme could be set for refusal at the planning committee stage after officers recommended councillors refuse to grant the owners planning permission.

The Yaxham Road site, which has been empty for more than five years, was used by Cemex UK to produce concrete building blocks.

READ MORE: Business park plans could bring 100 new jobs to Norfolk town

The former Cemex site in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

The former Cemex site in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

The factory closed in June 2012 and since then food and retail outlets have sprung up on the eight-acre site, while plans to develop the remaining land into a hotel never came to fruition.

Landowner Lewis Mantle, from Norfolk Land Development, submitted the plans for a 5,209 square metre 'mixed-use business park and employment hub' to Breckland Council on December 7.

The recommendation advising refusal said key issues with the development, which would create 10 new industrial units, included the design and layout, impact on neighbours, transport and highways and the risk of flooding.

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Dereham town councillors raised no objections, but councillors said the design appeared 'uninspiring and low value', while the environment agency recommended additional checks were carried out.

Norfolk County Council Highways said the road layout 'required modification' to ensure safe access, while the flood and water management team objected due to a lack of information as to how flood risks would be avoided.

And one objection letter said: 'We would be strongly opposed to large takeaway facilities providing fried food. Such businesses opposite this residential area would be intolerable.'

READ MORE: Work begins on new £1 million business centre on outskirts of Dereham town centre

Council officers called the site, in the Rashes Green industrial estate, 'unused' and 'an eyesore, which the proposed development would improve', and noted the potential for 50 to 100 jobs, but said they had 'significant concern' about the visual impact.

They said: 'The proposal would be oppressive and visually unpleasing... '[It] would provide a hostile and unwelcoming environment [and] have a detrimental impact.'

The plans will be discussed at Breckland's planning committee meeting on Monday, March 11.

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