Stage school’s new studio plan faces objections from nearby residents

A Busybodies class practising their routine in one of the school's current studios. Picture: Busybod

A Busybodies class practising their routine in one of the school's current studios. Picture: Busybodies Dance School - Credit: Busybodies Stage School

A stage school is hoping to build a new studio as it navigates the coronavirus pandemic, and has met support from parents amid opposition from residents.

Busybodies Stage School in Dereham. Picture: Noah Vickers

Busybodies Stage School in Dereham. Picture: Noah Vickers - Credit: Archant

Busybodies Stage School in Dereham has been running dance and drama classes from its iconic pink building on the Shipdham Road since 1985.

The school has proposed building an adjoining single-storey studio in place of an existing shed. Under the plan, the shed would be moved across the car park and a new path would be laid down.

“Covid has meant we’ve had to divide all our classes up into smaller groups, and put a one-way system in.” said headteacher Nichola West.

“We just want to provide the children with a safe environment,” she added. “Looking at the long-term, it looks like Covid isn’t going to go away... We need to be able to provide for our disabled children as well.”

A Busybodies class practising their routine in one of the school's current studios. Picture: Busybod

A Busybodies class practising their routine in one of the school's current studios. Picture: Busybodies Dance School - Credit: Busybodies Stage School


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Residents who share a driveway with the school have lodged objections with Breckland Council, citing the “negative visual impact” of the relocated shed, and how the re-aligned drive would affect their entry and exit.

One resident said: “Her business has outgrown the premises. For a residential area, she hasn’t got the facilities.”

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“Our issue is health and safety,” added the resident, “because you have children running in front of cars. We just want to get in and out of the drive without any hassle, but she wants to narrow the drive.

“Our concern is if a fire engine has to come through, the drive will have a big kink in it, so the access is going to be completely changed.”

In response, Ms West said: “The road would be identical in width and accessibility as it is currently and would improve emergency access by reducing the bend.”

Ms West added she did not want an argument with residents, but to work with them.

The council will give a decision on the plan by Christmas Eve. Its environmental officers have recommended approval, so long as noise is limited.

Some 28 supportive statements have so far been received, while 11 objections have been lodged.

Writing in support, a former student said: “This is a fabulous opportunity for current and future generations of the community and surrounding area”.

She added that in her 13 years at the school, “there were no accidents caused by children crossing the car park”.

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