Dereham is poised to play a pivotal role in Norfolk’s future development, a meeting of town leaders has been told.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman hosted a gathering of business, community and civic movers and shakers at St Nicholas Church, focusing on how the town could develop and grow over the next 10 years. 

Mr Freeman said Dereham was on its way to becoming a thriving settlement, building on its heritage and culture and attracting new investment and businesses. 

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He said: “With the expansion of the Norwich Research Park, Dereham and Wymondham will become towns capable of attracting new businesses by providing a great quality of life with its culture and heritage. 

“We need to make Dereham a place where you’d want to live and grow a business, right here, in the heart of Norfolk.

“Dereham has a real heritage and history and the timing feels right to develop a local plan for what Dereham wants. 

“It needs local leaders to come forward who have an abiding love for the town.” 

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The meeting was the idea of Rev Paul Cubitt, Rector of Dereham, who has experience bringing diverse groups together to change the town for the better. 

Mr Freeman said an updated Breckland Local Plan - currently being prepared - would form a roadmap for the town’s improvement and suggested a community-led Dereham Plan Partnership could help establish what direction people from the town wanted to see it go in. 

The discussion then focused on the Market Place - which is the gateway for most visitors - and how to improve it.

Rev Cubitt said: “[Mr Freeman] was delighted with the response and recognises it will require significant teamwork to create an ongoing and meaningful difference.”