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Purcell was appointed for the re-construction of 31-34 Upper Market Place in Fakenham which were completely destroyed when a devastating fire swept through the buildings.

The buildings sit in the Conservation Area of the town and no.34 is a Grade II listed building. While no.31-33 are not listed, they are adjacent to no.30 which is also Grade II listed. The development is mixed use, including both commercial and residential spaces. 

The project had a variety of challenges from the start, due to the complexity of the site, the historic area in which the buildings sit, and the presence of two different owners with different budgets. The team was appointed in the early phases of the project and worked through these challenges to complete the technical package on a very tight timescale.

One of the biggest difficulties was the instability of the three party walls surrounding the site. The walls were found to be half brick thick and needed to be propped and piled until their strengthening was undertaken. The team worked closely with North Norfolk District Council to ensure that the historic fabric of the adjacent listed buildings was preserved. 

There were no requirements from North Norfolk District Council to provide a replica of the previous buildings and the clients wished the main façade to be more in line with the Georgian aesthetic of the Market Square setting. The new buildings are in a red soft imperial brickwork with stone quoins and a pediment on top of the central bay. Facing bricks in different sizes, textures and colours have been used on the external walls to distinguish the units. This has been emphasised by the use of different roof materials such as slate and pantiles. The undercroft between no.30 and no.31 has been maintained to provide the important pedestrian link from the Market to the churchyard of St. Peter and St. Paul Church.

The buildings have been optimised to accommodate the current requirements for the retail occupants. The first and second floors over no.34 accommodate 2 one-bedroom and 2 two-bedroom apartments with modern facilities, accessed through a secure gate from Market Square. The shop fronts on the ground floor have been enhanced with profiled timber panelling and advertisement boarding, in painted colours to blend in with the adjacent shops of the area. The building has been constructed to current building and safety standards. The shops have been fitted out by the retail occupants and finished according to their specific requirements and details.

The high quality and sensitivity of the design was highlighted when the development won a Commended award at the 2018 Graham Allen Awards. These awards celebrate best practice in design and conservation in the North Norfolk district. The rebuilding of 31-34 Upper Market has provided the people of Fakenham with a lively space which will be enjoyed by residents and visitors for many years to come. 

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