Sprowston to benefit from a new £1.5m community project
- Credit: SIMON FINLAY
An ambitious £1.5m project will see people living in Sprowston benefit from a new community sports hall after a 40-year wait.
The new 3,000 sq ft multi-use hall will be built at the Sprowston Diamond Centre on School Lane as part of a series of improvements to the facility, if granted planning permission.
Sprowston Town Council has agreed to fund the project by taking out a £1.5m loan.
Ian Moncur, town council chairman, said: 'I think this is really important for the people of Sprowston as they have been asking for a community sports centre for 40 years.
'I grew up as a lad in the town and there were never any indoor sports facilities. I think this will be an asset for the people of Sprowston going forward.'
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Other planned improvements to the centre include the installation of two new kitchens, new changing rooms and toilets. Councillors decided that the best way to pay for the project was to take out a 50-year annuity loan from the Public Works Loan Board.
It would then be paid back through the precept and from the revenue created by people hiring rooms at the community centre.
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Town clerk June Hunt said: 'We will keep it [the precept] to an absolute minimum of what we need it to be, because we have a full business plan and we will do all we can to make it viable without it being a drain on the public purse.'
Last year the council made about £78,000 from the hire of facilities at the centre.
It has predicted that figure will rise to more than £90,000 once the refurbishment work has been completed.
Barbara Lashley, central ward councillor, said: 'The money does come from the precept but Sprowston is a rapidly expanding community and as these houses come in, so will the precept.
'For the current residents, it is not going to create much of a rise in the precept because of the additional homes.'
Norwich-based developers Bidwells will now submit a planning application to Broadland District Council in the following weeks.
The council said the overall project is expected to take about 12 months to complete. It is expected to cost between £1.3m and £1.5m.
Once ready it will provide the town's 15,000 residents with better indoor sports and event facilities.
Mrs Lashley added: 'This is very important for the town because we are a big community with relatively few places for people to use.
'We have always wanted there to be a community centre in Sprowston and the feedback we got from users is that we need a larger hall for bigger classes and community events.'
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