Plans to turn former butcher’s shop into day care centre

North Walsham could soon be getting a new day care centre with plans to convert a disused butcher's shop into a centre to help people with learning and physical difficulties.

The move, it has been claimed, would help re-invigorate St Nicholas Court in North Walsham.

The proposals have been put forward by Elizabeth FitzRoy Support, a national charity which provides support for adults with learning and physical disabilities.

Bosses of Elizabeth FitzRoy, which has bases around Norfolk, say the day centre, which would include an accessible shower and toilet, a multi-sensory room, tea-making facility and a lounge /dining area, would provide a base for local people so they can access services more easily than having to travel across the county.

In a planning application submitted to North Norfolk District Council, which is currently under consultation, it states: 'The principle of a locality base for a day service is that it will draw people in and provide them with access to the local shops and amenities.

'Elizabeth FitzRoy have stated their desire to build good relations with other retailers, so that the people they support can use and access their shops and facilities in a way that they are less able to do now, because they are situated in such a rural location.'

There is no change proposed to the scale of the shop unit or floor space, although the internal layout of the building will change to incorporate the shower and kitchen and other facilities, and replacement doors will be used to improve access for wheelchair users.

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The butcher's shop, which employed one full-time butcher and a part-time assistant, has now been vacant for five months.

The new day centre would employ eight – 12 people on a part-time basis, who would be there at different parts of the day.

The staff would be redeployed from one of the support group's former day care facilities.

No objections to the plans so far have been received from Highways or Environmental Health representatives.

The support group says that it hopes having a day care centre in the area will help 'inject life' into the shopping precinct.

In the planning application it states: 'Although the unit falls within an area designated for predominantly retail uses, the proposed use would increase footfall in the area and enhance the existing neighbouring retail uses,

'One of the day centre's key functions is to bring local people into the centre to allow them to use the facilities.

'As such, the proposal represents a real opportunity to increase customer levels in this area and improve the vitality of the area for shopkeepers.

'While the proposal considered under this application only concerns one unit, it represents a real opportunity to inject life into the area.'

At the end of last year, Meadow Cottage at Overstrand, which was the second home to be opened by the Elizabeth FitzRoy charity in 1966, and where the adopted son of the founder died in 1981, was closed.

FitzRoy spokesman Chula Bishop said at the time they had moved to smaller, better equipped houses as the one at Overstrand was dated.

Elizbeth FitzRoy helped found a Catholic handicapped children's charity in 1956 after adopting Michael who had Down's Syndrome, and launched the homes in 1962.