Fight to safeguard Dad's Army hotel

PUBLISHED: 12:34 08 August 2008 | UPDATED: 10:59 08 July 2010

An iconic Norfolk hotel that was made famous by the Dad's Army sitcom is set for a brighter future after an agreement was made to try and bring it into public ownership.

An iconic Norfolk hotel that was made famous by the Dad's Army sitcom is set for a brighter future after an agreement was made to try and bring it into public ownership.

The boarded-up Anchor Hotel in Thetford, which was featured in the first episode of the popular TV series, has fallen into a sorry state since it closed more than two years ago.

But the redundant Bridge Street building may be saved from complete demolition after Breckland Councillors decided to enter negotiations to acquire the town centre site.

The Anchor, which has been the victim of a number of arson and vandalism attacks, is the subject of two planning applications to be redeveloped into a courtyard flats and retail scheme.

But Breckland councillors yesterday declared that work to convert the building into a mix of “exciting” uses could start within 24 months, if a deal could be done with Hertford-based owner Zog II.

The proposals, which would run in conjunction with the wider development of the bus station site and riverside area of Thetford, was discussed behind closed doors at a full council meeting. The figures involved in buying the rundown building have not been revealed.

But community leaders yesterday welcomed the news that could secure the 18th century building for future generations.

William Nunn, leader of Breckland Council, said the acquisition would be “great news” for Thetford and hoped a development plan could be drawn up in the next few months.

“We know that the people of Thetford would like their town centre to be a vibrant hub of the community with restaurants, cafes, shops and public places that enhance the riverside and complement the heritage of the town. This is a great opportunity for the Moving Thetford Forward partnership to realise those aspirations and enrich the experience of shoppers, visitors and residents,” he said.

Breckland Council proposes to make the Anchor Hotel safe and secure if the sale goes through.

Stuart Wright, chairman of the Thetford Society, which runs the popular Dad's Army tours in the town, said he hoped some hotel provision could be retained at the Anchor site.

“We would like to see as much of the historical part retained and bringing it into public ownership would bring a more sympathetic development that does not have to be driven by profit,” he said.

District and town councillor Marion Chapman-Allen added: “This is fantastic news for Thetford. People have been saying for a long time 'why doesn't Breckland Council do something about the Anchor Hotel.' Breckland is now taking this action at what would be an otherwise derelict building.”

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