Public support for Sprowston community building plans

Public support for plans to secure the future of a community building in Sprowston, which is due to close later this summer, has been described as 'overwhelming'.

The Norfolk County Council-owned Integrated Youth Support Development Centre housed in the Elementary School building on School Lane has fallen victim to public service cuts and will be decommissioned on August 31.

Sprowston Parish Council, including councillor Chris Noble, is hoping to acquire the building and is preparing a business case to present to the county council aimed at retaining the building for the benefit of those living in the area.

June Hunt, parish clerk, said: 'The community is 110pc behind us. People are coming out and saying how they can help us – there's very much an interest.

'We had a fete here at our grounds on Saturday with our own stall and the response was phenomenal.

'We've put in an expression of interest but they're now looking for full commercial value and have not presented us with a price of that value.

'The public support has been overwhelming but without that commercial value its very difficult for people to discuss it further.'

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Cliff Jordan, county council cabinet member for efficiency, said: 'We are in the process of gaining a valuation on the building at Sprowston but this is a complex process and has to include very many aspects, such as the planning potential of the property.

'We need to ensure that this is accurate as possible so that we can get the best value for Norfolk's taxpayers . Our underlying responsibility has to be to Norfolk's taxpayers.

'We appreciate that Sprowston Parish Council are keen to receive this valuation to support their business case for potentially taking on the unit in School Lane. However, this is a process that cannot be rushed.

'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.'

A playgroup which currently uses the building is having to look for a new home in the next couple of months before the building, built in 1860, closes.

Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, has added her voice to local desire for a community centre in Sprowston. She said: 'Many people have told me over years that they want a community building in Sprowston. I think it would be good to have a community centre which could be used by young and old alike for all sorts of recreation and activity.'

Anybody interested in the project should contact June Hunt on 0845 0046227.