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New twist to Guildhall saga

PUBLISHED: 14:04 09 January 2008 | UPDATED: 11:50 21 May 2010

A long-running saga over plans to turn a historic dilapidated Dereham building into housing is set to take another twist.

For years the fate of the Grade II listed Old Guildhall in St Withburga Lane has been debated while the landmark falls further into disrepair.

A long-running saga over plans to turn a historic dilapidated Dereham building into housing is set to take another twist.

For years the fate of the Grade II listed Old Guildhall in St Withburga Lane has been debated while the landmark falls further into disrepair.

The Guildhall used to be the offices of Breckland Council but stood empty when its staff moved to the new headquarters at Elizabeth House, and soon became the target of vandals who scrawled graffiti on it, smashed windows and started fires.

Paul Green, the building's current owner, said he wanted to convert it into housing and some work has started, but there have been complaints about the building not being secure and last year Breckland Council issued an urgent works notice to improve security.

Other complaints have surrounded trees within a conservation area being felled, new roof tiles not matching the originals put up, and a long garden wall possibly being knocked down.

Now Mr Green is applying to Breckland's development control committee to make alterations to the four proposed residential units, with one additional room on one unit designed to match the adjoining building.

Mr Green, who has aimed the designs “to meet local need,” said the long garden wall would be kept, and having looked at all uses for the building including commercial, offices, leisure and residential, residential was the “only viable option.”

“The application has been designed to keep intact all the existing external appearances, indeed enhancing some aspects such as taking down the metal fire stairs, which are a later addition to the building,” he said.

“The impact of the application is at an absolute minimum so its historic importance is enhanced and preserved for the future.”

A Breckland Council spokesman said: “We have received a new application for the Guildhall. It is going through the normal consultation process.”

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