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Call for meeting on future of Sprowston building

PUBLISHED: 08:15 25 July 2011

The community building in school Lane, Sprowston the parish council are hoping to save from closure.; photo by Adrian Judd

The community building in school Lane, Sprowston the parish council are hoping to save from closure.; photo by Adrian Judd

Archant Norfolk 2011

Sprowston's MP is calling for a meeting so the future of a vacant youth services building can be resolved before it becomes a target for vandals.

Families in Sprowston are keen to see the Norfolk County Council-owned Integrated Youth Support Development Centre, housed in the Elementary School building in School Lane, turned into a community centre, as the area does not currently have one.

The youth services centre is due to be decommissioned on August 31 as a result of public sector cuts.

Now Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, who has been campaiging for a community centre for Sprowston, has written to the chief executive of Norfolk County Council to offer to host a meeting locally to resolve the site’s future before the end of August.

Miss Smith said there needs to be clear way forward before the start of the new school term for groups who have previously used facilities there, and she is pushing for action before the site is fully decommissioned, in order to avoid vandalism and the site deteriorating into an eyesore.

She said: “Sprowston wants a community centre. This could be an ideal site, if the right price can be found. I want to see options on the table sooner rather than later, as there are so many in the community who would ideally like to use facilities by the time September comes round again. For the longer term, a sustainable future must be found. If we all pull together I am sure that can be achieved.”

Sprowston Parish Council is hoping to acquire the building and is preparing a business case to present to the county council. However, it needs to know what the price of the property will be and the county council says that preparing a valuation is a complex process that takes time.

Cliff Jordan, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for efficiency, said: “We also want to reach a solution for Sprowston as quickly as possible but need to ensure we get the best value for Norfolk taxpayers. The building has become vacant because of very difficult budget decisions brought about by increasing demand on our services and cuts in our grant from central government.

“We have already said that we are keen for community groups and local councils to come forward if they are interested in taking on buildings that will become empty as a result of budget decisions and local councillors are keen to support the community with this in whatever way they can. If a potential buyer is someone in the community, with a viable financial plan, then we would consider that proposal first.”

Is your community striving to get new facilities? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk.

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