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Mereside shops plan set for refusal

PUBLISHED: 09:20 25 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:22 12 July 2010

Plans to revitalise a Diss shopping centre by building a retail development on the banks of a picturesque lake have been recommended for refusal by South Norfolk planning officials.

Plans to revitalise a Diss shopping centre by building a retail development on the banks of a picturesque lake have been recommended for refusal by South Norfolk planning officials.

Applicant Tacolneston Estate Ltd wants to build for a restaurant, two shops and four studio flats at King's Head Yard car park in Mere Street, Diss.

The site is within a conservation area on the north side of Diss Mere and there are several listed properties in the vicinity. There are also important views from the south-west where any developments will be seen across the mere against the backdrop of existing buildings.

The design statement says the scheme will open up access to the water's edge. The intention is “to create an ambience for the fullest use of the east bank of the mere”. It is hoped the redevelopment would be an example which will eventually encourage others to improve the whole of the eastern banks and revitalise the commerce and general attraction of the town centre.

Two shops in Mere Street closed last month, and Siddals shoe shop is currently holding a closing down sale. The China Cabinet in nearby Victoria Road is relocating to Harleston, after 40 years trading in Diss, and Martin's newsagents also closed at the end of last year.

The town council supports the application in principle, describing the restaurant as an imaginative scheme that will enhance the Mereside and improve pedestrian safety, once the “unsatisfactory” car park is gone. But councillors are concerned that there is no artist's impression of how the development would look - the proposal being for a single storey and a three-storey building.

Planning officers consider the proposal to be detrimental to the conservation area, and say insufficient information has been received to assess its merits. The application goes before the south-west area planning committee on Tuesday.

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