The aboutDereham Partnership

From the outset in 2018, we have worked hard with our partners to raise the profile of Dereham town and to start to make some of the improvements people have asked for. Our first leaflet promoting the town and its assets was published and distributed in 2019. A more recent visitor guide includes a map and has been distributed to tourist information centres and libraries as well as into quite a few shops and outlets in the town itself. The leaflet is available in pdf format here.

OCTOBER 2021 – Launch of new pedestrian signs

In January 2020 we learned that our application to Breckland Council for funding to create new pedestrian signs in Dereham had been successful. Their offer was subsequently matched by both Dereham Town Council and Norfolk County Council, meaning we had a budget big enough to invest in good quality signs. It was a lengthy process and was delayed due to lockdowns which took place twice in 2020, but eventually our new signs were designed and fabricated and erected in the town centre in September 2021.

The arrival of the new signs, designed to enhance the visitor experience in the town centre, was celebrated with a small launch event on 22nd October 2021. You can read about the launch event here.

Cherry Tree
At the Library
Nunn’s Way and Norwich Street

SEPTEMBER 2021 – opening of the Ellenor Fenn Garden

Another fantastic project of which aboutDereham is very proud, is the conversion of a piece of wasteland near the town centre into a lovely community space with footpaths, grassed areas, planting and plenty of seating. The garden has a children’s area and is designed to encourage wildlife with bird boxes, bug houses and bee hotels as well as the lovely buddleia to encourage butterflies. There’s even a hedgehog home!

The garden includes information panels about British butterflies and how to look after hedgehogs as well as one introducing Ellenor Fenn. The garden is named after her and designed as a tribute to this 18th century pioneer educationalist and philanthropist. Ellenor loved children and taught that the study of nature is the best way to engage them in activities which help to develop literacy, numeracy and reasoning skills.

Members of aboutDereham supported this project from its inception and many members joined in with contributions to the planting and the overall project. The site is available for community use and also as a performance area and has already seen a couple of acts, as well as story time for children, before the end of the good weather.

aboutDereham helped to obtain the grant funding for the work which was then matched with Breckland Council funds to create the new Ellenor Fenn Garden in Dereham, which was officially opened on 11 September 2021.

MAY 2021 Joint working group with town council

The aboutDereham Partnership proposed to the town council that a small working group be established to consider priorities for the Town Delivery Plan to be created for Dereham by consultants commissioned by Breckland Council.

This working group has a broad agreement on a number of priorities for consideration in the new town plan.

Summary of priorities

Members of this group as well as representatives of the aboutDereham Partnership have talked with the consultants about what we all feel is needed from the town delivery plan.

JULY 2019

Vision for Dereham

In July 2019 the aboutDereham Partnership meeting discussed a broad-brush vision for the town centre derived from the previous exercise. This document is now available here

MAY 2019

At the Partnership AGM in May 2019, our members reviewed our projects which are underway (pedestrian signage and town guide) and the topics or issues we felt are priorities yet to be tackled.

Following discussions, the projects were ranked in priority order, with tourist information and town centre accessibility and toilets scoring highest with 6 points. It was agreed that a project to look at tourist information could (or should) also encompass heritage.

The following topics were prioritised for 2019-20:

  • Tourist Information and Heritage
  • Town centre access, signage, toilets
  • Vision for the town centre and a Neighbourhood Plan
  • Traffic, buses, pick-up points in town centre
  • Signage
  • Improvements to Marketplace and High Street
  • Dereham Memorial Hall
  • ‘Working together’
  • Car parking
  • Litter
  • Public green spaces
  • Food offer in town
  • Town centre free Wi-Fi
  • Name of town


Vision exercise

At the meeting on 21st November 2018, we discussed our ideas for a vision for Dereham 2035. This was partly because as a group we are convinced that an over-arching vision is needed for the town so that all organisations have something to steer their efforts in the same direction. In fact the need for a vision was top of our list of ‘Future Dereham’ projects.

In addition, Dereham Town Council have begun to draft a vision for the town as part of the development of the Neighbourhood Plan. This plan and its ‘vision for Dereham 2035’ should come out for consultation soon. (Expected 2019).

You can see the results of our own vision exercise here. It must be said that this is by no means a completed exercise and that some effort must be made to produce a credible vision for the future of Dereham which has the support of residents and businesses, public sector and community groups.


Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

This exercise was conducted as part of the Partnership meeting on 20th September 2018. Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the perceived weaknesses and opportunities reflected projects and needs already identified by the group. For example, a good, varied retail offer is seen as a strength but online shopping is seen as a threat to the sustainability of the town centre, among other factors. Continued development is seen as a threat if no steps are taken to ensure adequate infrastructure.

However, the group also perceived a number of opportunities including the town’s heritage, natural assets and a range of good quality amenities. The full analysis can be found here.


Future Dereham

From our early partnership meetings in January and March 2018, concerns were raised about a number of topics which people felt needed addressing in the town centre. These included:

  • Vision for the town
  • Town centre access, signage, toilets
  • Marketplace and High Street
  • Tourist Info Centre
  • Traffic and buses in Marketplace
  • Lack of a bus station
  • Car parking
  • Signage
  • Dereham Memorial Hall
  • Public green spaces
  • Heritage
  • Lack of decent food offer
  • Litter
Infogram of Dereham's issues

These topics were subsequently discussed and refined and a list of possible projects was created with the intention of trying to ensure that some of these would start to be addressed by the relevant authorities.