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Heritage fears over plan to bulldoze old hall in Dersingham

GV picture of the Building work in progress on the New Dersingham Village Centre.
GV picture of the Building work in progress on the New Dersingham Village Centre.

Heritage campaigners have criticised plans to demolish a West Norfolk village’s community centre to make way for housing.

As building work continues on a new community hub for Dersingham, developers are seeking to demolish the old hall on Manor Road to develop nine homes in its place.

But, although planners say the scheme should be approved when it goes to councillors next month, Historic England has called for a rethink, because of the building’s origins as a Victorian school.

In a West Norfolk Council planning report, the group said it believes the building dates back to the 1880s.

The group said: “If the council are convinced that options for its continued use as a community asset have been exhausted we would not object in principle to construction of new dwellings on the former school playground or to the sensitive conversion of this historic building (minus the modern extensions) to residential use.

“However, the wholesale demolition of the historic school building would remove a significant element in the Conservation Area.

“We are concerned that demolition of the historic former school would result in harm to the significance of the Conservation Area.”

But borough planning officials said the demolition plan had not been deemed to cause substantial harm and Historic England had not ruled out a residential use for the site.

They continued: “The proposal brings significant highway improvements at a junction that falls woefully short in terms of modern day highway visibility standards.

“The layout and the architectural features demonstrated in the design of the properties advocates a high quality design, which will positively enhance the site.

“It is therefore considered on balance that the public benefit arising from the proposal outweighs the less than substantial harm caused to the conservation area through the loss of the building.”

The application, lodged by the Sandringham Estate, is due to be considered at a borough planning committee meeting on January 8.

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