September 23 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Desperate measures are being taken in a mid Norfolk village to keep a community space open.
Longham Parish Council want to convert the The Old School House, attached to their village hall, into a two-bedroom cottage.
The space on Chapel Road, near Dereham, is home to numerous local groups and societies, but has run out of cash for maintenance and repairs.
If the proposed change of use is accepted by Breckland Council, the money raised from the rent would contribute to the upkeep of the hall, stopping it from closing.
Susan Douglas, chair of the village parish council and secretary of the village hall committee, described the situation as “desperate”.
“We go from month to month at the moment,” she said.
“If we can rent the property out then we can secure the future of the village hall.
“It is in very bad condition and it would be a real shame to lose it, so we have to do something fairly drastic to keep it going.”
If approved, the work on the cottage could cost around £30,000, which the parish council hopes would be funded by grants from Breckland, Norfolk County Council and the National Lottery.
“These days you have to think outside the box,” Mrs Douglas said.
“There’s only so many fundraisers you can do, but if we leave the hall much longer it’s going to be in a bad state of repair.”
The house, which would have two bedrooms and bathrooms as well as a private garden, could fetch about £500 a month.
Mrs Douglas said she and the village hall committee hoped to help the housing shortage in the area by creating the new home.
The report submitted to Breckland by their architects, Sketcher Partnership, says: “It is felt that with recent changes to planning policy in relation to being more proactive in allowing new development to assist in overcoming the national housing shortage and also to be more sympathetic with regard to providing affordable housing.”
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