‘Not surprised really’ - People share their views following the closure of business

Jewson's site on Westfield Road in Dereham. Picture: Google

Jewson's site on Westfield Road in Dereham. Picture: Google - Credit: Google

The closure of a Jewson branch in Dereham and the possible redevelopment of the site for housing have been met with a mixed reaction from local people.

The Westfield Road branch of the builders' merchant has shut, while the larger branch at Greens Road remains open.

The one-and-a-half acre site has been placed on the market for offers exceeding £500,000 and could potentially unlock more new housing in the already expanding town.

Some residents said they were shocked while others commented that they were surprised it had not happened sooner.

Andy Nicholson, of Dereham, said: "Surprised it didn't close down years ago with the other one only half a mile away."

Angie Neave, who was already aware of the closure, added that she was also "not surprised really".

An application outlining plans to build 24 homes on the former Palgrave Brown site next door has been received by Breckland Council. Its decision could pave the way for even more new housing.

One resident, Danny Thomas, praised the move and said the land was "worth more as building home potential". He added that he was looking forward to seeing the plans.

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"Good move considering [Jewson] already have another larger branch at Greens Road," he said.

"It's worth more as building homes potential, gets rid of industrial use in a residential area, zoned infill, not green belt, or brown field development, and not even back land development as it has its own road frontage."

He wanted to see at least a fifth of the development include affordable housing, a move which Gillian Cornell was quick to express concern over.

She said: "They start out offering a high rate of so called affordable homes, part way through construction the developers will claim it's not feasible. At least that seems to be the trend these days."

Finally Kiwi Pinnock, also of Dereham, came up with another suggestion of using the land for parking at the school.

"There's always cars parked along the road, all day," she said. "May help?"

Last month, Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman wrote to Breckland Council expressing worry over the level of development already touted for the town. Dereham Town Council also confirmed its concerns over the potential loss of employment land.

Phil Duigan, Breckland councillor for Dereham, said he could see some merit in the site potentially going to residential use.

A spokesman for Jewson confirmed that one colleague was made redundant as a result of the closure.