A DESIGN for the Anchor Hotel site in Thetford looks too much like unloved 1960s shops nearby, councillors say.
Breckland’s planning committee has deferred a decision on plans to redevelop the site with a 62-bedroom hotel and a three-screen cinema above shops, but said it wanted the site redeveloped.
Principal planning officer Nick Moys told the committee on Monday: “It’s the view of the officers that a contemporary design is not only acceptable, it’s desirable.”
He said its pitched roofs echoed older styles and that it hinted at a granary once on the riverside site.
But Stuart Wilson, for the Thetford Society, said the Moving Thetford Forward consultation had shown how people disliked the ‘ugly’ 1960s riverside shops.
“Now we’re faced with a development in a similar style opposite,” he said.
Most councillors were in favour of redevelopment and the benefits of having a cinema and hotel on the site, but criticised the look.
Claire Bowes said: “I’m stunned at the opportunity missed here. This reflects the look of the 1960s buildings in the area. This is an important and historical decision, not just for Thetford but for the rest of Breckland.”
Paul Claussen said: “I think the design just needs a little more care.”
Thetford-born Terry Lamb called for the heart of the Anchor to be incorporated into the new development, including its original facade which, he said, was behind the later stucco frontage.
Planning manager Peter Jackson said three applications to get the Anchor listed had failed and English Heritage felt there was little of architectural merit there.
“There’s absolutely no chance of the Anchor being listed,” he added.
He suggested granting conservation area consent for it to be demolished with the condition that if the site remained vacant it be temporarily landscaped. Only one committee member voted against that.
The committee voted five for and two against deferring the decision on the redevelopment for the designed to be revised.