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Dereham: The envy of others

PUBLISHED: 14:51 21 May 2008 | UPDATED: 14:34 07 July 2010

Business in Dereham is the envy of many other towns in the district, bosses charged with encouraging the economy in the area said after two new independent shops opened in the town.

Business in Dereham is the envy of many other towns in the district, bosses charged with encouraging the economy in the area said after two new independent shops opened in the town.

The two units, which closed in Quebec Street and Nunn's Way a month ago, have reopened refurbished and with independent local businesses - a gents hairdressers and a bead and craft shop.

A further empty shop, formerly Top Card, in Norwich Street, looks set to reopen soon, it is thought as a café.

The town's chamber of trade said it was a mark of the interest in some of the town's empty shops and, while there were problems facing shop owners, from Tesco expanding on the edge of town to the need for toilet facilities, it was positive these could be overcome.

Ian Philpott, chairman of Dereham and District Chamber of Trade, said: “I do not count Dereham as dead. There is interest and some are getting let.

“I don't think any of the problems we are facing are insurmountable. It just needs energy and enthusiasm to get on with it.

“There is a need for more trade and shops but that has to be set off by people using them.”

Issues facing the town include the expansion of Tesco on the edge of town, potentially drawing customers away.

It was thought over-60s were using their new free bus passes to go to Norwich instead of staying local.

And mortgages and loans were hard to get under the current economic situation.

Loss of major industry over the last couple of decades was also making the town more like a dormitory town for Norwich.

There are still many empty units: Commtec in High Street, which closed last month, former Gracie's gift shop in Market Place, the old Lloyds TSB branch in Norwich Street, former clothes shop Identity, the unit on the new Dencora development off Norwich Street and a former estate agents in Market Place.

But the situation could be helped, said Mr Philpott, through better services for shoppers - like a toilet block close to the new development in High Street - the Memorial Hall being brought up to date, the resolution of the problem of where to put a bus interchange and traffic flow being looked at.

Even with its problems, Mark Stanton, economic development officer with Breckland Council, says the town is the envy of many others in the district.

“Other market towns envy Dereham, that is what we hear. Thetford, Swaffham, Attleborough would love to have the business Dereham has.And we would say Dereham is an example of a thriving market town.”

But he also echoed Mr Philpott's comments about people shopping locally. “When you ask people what sort of shop they would like to see they want all sorts of nice delis and things but then they have to use them,” he said.

“If you go to Tesco don't buy a stereo, buy it from a local electrical shop, use your butcher or veg man.”

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