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Opposition grows to demolition bid

PUBLISHED: 17:09 07 May 2009 | UPDATED: 11:05 12 July 2010

OPPOSITION is mounting over plans to demolish a valued community building in Diss to make way for a mereside housing development.

Protesters yesterday handed over a petition signed by more than 1,200 people against South Norfolk Conservative Association's proposals for the Grasmere building.

OPPOSITION is mounting over plans to demolish a valued community building in Diss to make way for a mereside housing development.

Protesters yesterday handed over a petition signed by more than 1,200 people against South Norfolk Conservative Association's proposals for the Grasmere building.

Officials from the “say no” campaign presented the signatures to the head of planning at the district council in their bid to put a stop to the political party's application to turn its headquarters in Denmark Street into 14 flats.

Barbara Roberts, a member of the Grasmere social club and the Conservative association, who organised the petition, said the response showed the strength of feeling against the proposals in the town.

“We have got over 1,200 signatories in a couple of weeks and only half a dozen people refused to sign it. The rest have been overwhelming in their support for the petition. We could have got double the number of signatures if we had more time,” she said.

The handover comes as objections continue to mount over the demolition of the 1960s Grasmere building, which was donated to the Conservative association by the late Sir John and Lady Clare Mann with the proviso that the local ex-servicemen's associations could use the facility for free.

Diss Town Council has already submitted its opposition over the adverse impact on the conservation area, lack of car parking spaces, and loss of the view of the Mere from Denmark Street.

English Heritage has also raised concerns about the access to the flats and the design of the outline proposals. They have also asked the applicant to withdraw the plans for full investigations to be carried out on structures on the site of architectural and of historic interest.

The local Royal British Legion, Royal Air Force Association, and many other community groups would be left without a meeting place if the application received the go-ahead later this year.

Richard Bowgett, chairman of the Diss and District branch of the Royal British Legion, said the loss of Grasmere would impact its Poppy Appeal work during the Remembrance period.

“Our work would be severely hampered without the accommodation enjoyed by us for so many years plus the loss of revenue if it had to be siphoned off for commercial usage,” he said.

A spokeswoman for South Norfolk Council yesterday said that a planning committee date had not yet been set for the Grasmere application. She added that negotiations were ongoing to establish how the plans would be determined because the majority of district councillors belonged to the South Norfolk Conservative Association.

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