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Keep our club here call

PUBLISHED: 16:55 08 April 2009 | UPDATED: 11:01 12 July 2010

South Norfolk Conservative Association premises (Grasmere Club) on Denmark Street, Diss, which could be demolished. View of the building from across Diss Mere.

South Norfolk Conservative Association premises (Grasmere Club) on Denmark Street, Diss, which could be demolished. View of the building from across Diss Mere.

A say no campaign has been launched by members of the Grasmere Club who oppose South Norfolk Conservative Association's plans to redevelop its premises at Diss where they are based.

A say no campaign has been launched by members of the Grasmere Club who oppose South Norfolk Conservative Association's plans to redevelop its premises at Diss where they are based.

The proposals, unveiled last week by the Mercury, would see the existing Grasmere building in Denmark Street demolished to make way for 14 apartments with garages, overlooking the town's picturesque mere.

Outline plans have been submitted to South Norfolk Council, and if consent is granted the association will then put forward detailed plans for approval and decide whether to sell the site and relocate.

However, the scheme is proving controversial and the social club, whose 21-year lease runs out at the end of 2009, wants to save Grasmere from being bulldozed.

President Nigel Halls said: “I think I speak for the vast majority of club members when I say that we have more than just reservations about the proposal to redevelop Grasmere. It must not happen, and feelings are running high.

“Looking across the mere, from Mere's Mouth there are two landmarks - the Baptist church and the Grasmere building. The proposed plans offer what by day looks like a five floor block of flats, and by night would provide a hotchpotch of lights coming from various windows dotted all over the place.

“The character of the mere would be changed for the worse for ever. Sir John Betjamen said Diss is the perfect market town and he joined a campaign to preserve it, and I want to preserve it too.”

The proposed redevelopment would take in the adjoining car park, giving an elevated vista over the lake from Denmark Street that is much prized by residents and tourists who frequently stop there to take photographs.

Club chairman John Davis disputed claims, by the association's chairman Jon Herbert, that Grasmere is nearing the end of its lifespan, pointing out that the club makes a substantial contribution to the running and maintenance costs.

Concerns have also been raised by other groups based at Grasmere, which houses the constituency office of South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon.

Brian Ager, spokesman for the Diss RBL and RAFA, said: “The Royal British Legion and the Royal Air Forces Association use Grasmere Club free of charge. If the building is demolished and sold, the two organisations will have to find somewhere else to meet. Since we will then have to pay for our accommodation less money will be available for forces charities.”

South Norfolk Council is seeking local views on the scheme. The deadline for comments is April 23. The town council is expected to discuss the proposals at its meeting on Wednesday.

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