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Plans 'will not derail youth project'

PUBLISHED: 18:49 23 April 2008 | UPDATED: 15:54 02 June 2010

Breckland planners are set to approve proposals to develop a controversial doctor's surgery in Watton into residential homes.

Norwich-based Iceni Developments, who own the property at St Giles Road, have submitted an application for 14 dwellings on the site.

Breckland planners are set to approve proposals to develop a controversial doctor's surgery in Watton into residential homes.

Norwich-based Iceni Developments, who own the property at St Giles Road, have submitted an application for 14 dwellings on the site.

But the site has also attracted interest from businessmen and town councillors who are looking to turn it into a drop-in centre for youngsters under ambitious plans to enhance the town's youth facilities.

Developers say they are looking to demolish the surgery, which is currently vacant and build a new residential building complete with 14, one and two bed apartments.

Julian Horn, who is involved in the youth project, said he was aware of the developers' intentions. However, he insisted that the application would not derail their plans or push up the property's sale price.

Currently Watton Town Council, who are the trustees of a field in Harvey Street, want to sell off the land and raise enough cash to acquire the surgery.

The authority has recently received the approval from the Charity Commission and is now looking to sell the field estimated at £500,000.

Councillors and businessmen have previously considered the possibility of a swap between developers and the council whereby the former would acquire the council-owned land in Harvey Street in exchange for the doctor's surgery.

Watton Mayor Keith Gilbert said the expected planning permission for development would establish the value of the property.

Earlier this year, Paul Adcock, who is spearheading the youth project said: “Planning permission has been sought for the conversion of the doctor's surgery by the owners, but that was expected by us and the town council. They [the owners] had a prior intent to develop it as such and they are covering themselves in the event that we are not able to go ahead with the acquisition of the property. “The planning permission that has been submitted will not alter our cooperation with the developers.”

Mr Adcock said the money they would have to stump up for the property would be the same that any other potential buyer would have to pay.

Breckland planners are to reach a decision on Monday.

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