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Traders meeting to discuss future of seaside towns

Sheringham and Cromer chambers of trade are meeting this month to discuss the future prosperity of the local economy.

The two groups have got together the personalities who shape the future of the two towns to hear what they have to say and give businesses the opportunity to express concerns and hopes.

The meeting is being seen as a “one-off opportunity to have your say to those that matter” and will be held on Tuesday, September 26, 6-8pm, at Sheringham Golf Club.

A top table of invited guest has been assembled of North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, Nigel Best, who is the growth hub manager for New Anglia, Rob Young, head of economic and community development at North Norfolk District Council, and town mayors David Gooch and John Frosdick. The meeting will be chaired by the leader of the district council, Tom FitzPatrick.

The panellists will give a brief presentation of their views on the outlook for the areas from their perspective to be followed by a question and answer session from the audience

Anyone wishing to attend is being asked to confirm by September 24 to Economic.growth@north-norfolk.gov.uk or telephone 01263 516009. Any topics you specifically would like to be discussed must be submitted by September 19.

PICTURE: CHRIS TAYLOR PHOTO

Cromer’s first 60s festival totally groovy, man

Cromer’s first  60s Festival drew big crowds yesterday (Sunday April 23) to North Norfolk’s iconic Cromer Pier.

The St George’s Day celebration organised by North Norfolk District Council welcomed in excess of 3,000 visitors over the course of the day. Many came on vintage scooters and motorcycles and even more got into the spirit of the 1960s by dressing in period clothing.

Maggie Prior, cabinet member for culture said: “The success of Cromer’s 60s event really shows there’s an appetite for something new and fun along the North Norfolk coast to add to the already superb calendar of events in our area. We are definitely going to look into whether this can become a yearly event.”

The event ran from 10am-4pm and was officially opened by TV and radio presenter Helen McDermott. With vintage stalls and vehicles, a screening of the 1966 World Cup Final, live music and dance, Beatles and Thunderbirds exhibitions, food and happy hours in the Pier Bar with £1 a pint, the day was packed with fun.

Nigel Pearce, ward member for Suffield Park, Cromer, who championed the event, said: “It was amazing to see so many people having a great time while celebrating the 60s. The 60s are very special to me so being able to share some of my favourite things with other people was really great. Thanks to everyone who came along.”

‘Vibrant’ new look for former Sheringham seafront hotel

A first-floor restaurant with panoramic views over the promenade and the sea will be an integral part of a development planned for the site of the former Shannocks Hotel in Sheringham.
Wymondham-based architects Lucas Hickman Smith have designed plans for owners Huddies to transform the derelict hotel on the seafront into vibrant new building with the restaurant, shops and flats in keeping with the town’s heritage and the nearby buildings.
The ground-floor retail units, first-floor restaurant and residential apartments on the upper floors will all have sea views to take advantage of its position overlooking the beach.
Company director Andrew Roper said: “We believe the application proposes a vibrant, forward-looking new building, of high architectural quality and demonstrating a clear link to Sheringham’s heritage and its immediate context.
“We are keen for local life to be enhanced by the proposed development, and in particular that the wider community should have the opportunity to enjoy the expansive views over the promenade, the beach and the sea that are offered by the site’s location.”
An application for full planning permission has been submitted to North Norfolk District Council and comes at a time when the council was considering applying for a compulsory purchase order on the site for an alternative development, incorporating the site of the Former Shannocks Hotel and the adjacent Chequers Car Park, which is owned by NNDC.
Judy Oliver, for NNDC, said: “As per the last cabinet decision, we are maintaining pressure on the owners to move forward with development, by putting our own development proposals forward for planning approval, along with a voluntary offer to purchase the derelict hotel from them.”
However, Huddies has urged it to rethink its proposals in light of its application.
“The acquiring authority pays all of the costs of the CPO and the public inquiry, and is usually ordered to pay a successful objector’s legal and professional costs,” said Mr Roper, adding it would “not be in the interests of local ratepayers”.
John Western, a director at Lucas Hickman Smith architects said the company had looked at re-developing the current building but that it was in too poor a state. He said: “The fabric and structure are in a bad state and there are issues with salt saturation.”Mr Roper said: “Retention and renovation of existing buildings is not always an option and the professional and expert opinion received by the company is that this cannot be justified, and would detrimentally impact upon the viability of the scheme. NNDC’s alternative scheme, which was displayed at a consultation event in December, suggests that they have received similar advice from their own property advisors.
“In addition, the existing building’s solid wall construction precludes most forms of thermal insulation and, together with a permeable external skin, has meant that the building has been unable to resist salt spray in its exposed location, leading to significant damp problems.
“The company’s objective of achieving a high level of thermal and environmental performance from the building can only be achieved through demolition and redevelopment.”
If the plans are approved, which the site’s owner expects will take approximately three months, it is hoped work could start before the end of the year, though the developers, who bought the site in late 2010, said that works would steer clear of the summer season.
Mr Roper said: “We are keen to ensure that we minimise disruption to local businesses during the tourist season, and this approach was supported by NNDC when we submitted our project execution plan to them in September of last year.”
He added: “The site is significant in the context of Sheringham and North Norfolk, and the company is fully committed to providing this positive, contemporary addition to the town, which it fully expects will benefit the local community, providing employment in the ground and first-floor commercial spaces, improving the commercial viability of the high street, attracting visitors to the town and presenting a bright, optimistic and forward-looking vision for the seafront and the town.”
The council earlier this month said it could stop the compulsory purchase order at any time if the current site owners were seen to be taking action to tidy up the area.