TALKS are under way with a big name operator for Thetford’s Anchor Site revamp.
Members at the February 9 meeting of Breckland Council’s cabinet were told the potential tenant for the Riverside Regeneration Project would generate ‘a great deal of income’ and help make Thetford a ‘top heritage destination’.
If it goes ahead, the scheme would see restaurants and a hotel built on the current Thetford Bus Station site.
Terry Jermy, councillor for Breckland and Thetford, said the scheme was largely positive but questioned the logic in opening new outlets when the town centre was not thriving.
“It’s a lot of money and the big issue I have is that we are going to be creating new units when we have a lot of empty ones in the high street,” he said.
Kevin Cooper, from developers, Building Partnerships, explained that the site would not attract retail use as it was targeting restaurant businesses and would not take demand away from retailers.
According to Mr Cooper, the new tenant would also be ‘low risk’ due to its size.
Research carried out by the potential tenant also suggested there is demand for a hotel at the site.
Members were told that owners of buildings opposite were looking at investing more into their own site if the proposal went ahead.
Councillors heard that once a tenant had been signed up for the site and planning permission had been granted that Breckland would have to complete building within 18 months.
Controversy has surrounded the plans since a parish poll in August found almost 80 per cent of voters were against moving the bus station.
But Cllr Jermy said there was now a more positive atmosphere surrounding the project.
“I think the atmosphere seems less antagonistic and Breckland seems more willing to listen to residents’ views,” he said.
Following the discussion, the members agreed to consult Thetford Town Council on the plans before entering a planning application.