Norfolk's Snetterton plans revealed

Adam GrettonSnetterton's Sunday marketplace is set for a multi-million pound overhaul after plans were approved for a 'world-class' toy exhibition centre and military museum.Adam Gretton

Snetterton's Sunday marketplace is set for a multi-million pound overhaul after plans were approved for a 'world-class' toy exhibition centre and military museum.

The ambitious scheme was given the green light by Breckland council's development control committee yesterday in the hope it will rejuvenate the site and boost tourism along the A11 corridor.

The plans, submitted by landowners Cliffsky Ltd, centre around a Model and Toy Expo - two linked exhibition halls which are intended to house displays from major manufacturers and attract families, collectors and enthusiasts.

The colourfully-panelled buildings, 5,700 sqm in total, would expand the activities of the existing model shop at Snetterton Park, which lies between Thetford and Attleborough.

A 2,400 sqm tank museum is also included in the proposals, to be operated by the East England Military Museum

The planned building, in the style of an aircraft hangar, would also contain a permanent display of the USAAF 96th Bomb Group which used the site during the Second World War.

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Also included are a new garden centre and cafeteria, while the existing 300-stall outdoor market will be replaced by a covered market which, although much smaller, could be operated seven days a week.

Among the 12 councillors who voted in favour of the scheme was Nigel Wilkin, who said: 'When I was a little boy, my mum ran a club book and I used to love looking at all the toys. So I am really praying that Father Christmas comes down the chimney and develops this.

'This is a very exciting site along the A11 corridor. It has had its problems in the past but I am pleased to see it is going to get a very European image - I just hope we get the full package.'

Stephen Askew, the representative for Snetterton, said he backed the idea but was concerned about a history of retrospective planning complaints at the site and the impact the scheme could have on proposed developments at the neighbouring racing circuit.

Principal planning officer Nick Moys told the meeting that letters of support for the scheme had been received from major toy manufacturers including Lego, Playmobil and Hornby.

Concerns were also raised about increased traffic volumes, but Mr Moys said the Snetterton A11 interchange had the capacity to cope with it.

After the meeting, site owner Trevor Warner said the expected cost of the development would be 'under �10m'. He said: 'The decision was very pleasing. It is going to be a world-class attraction and this is a major turning point after 18 months of making sure everyone was on board.'