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Former school site resolved as an asset to the community

PUBLISHED: 15:14 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:52 26 September 2018

The former Elm Road School in Thetford Picture: Archant

The former Elm Road School in Thetford Picture: Archant

Archant

A council wants to take over a former school site for the benefit of the community.

Thetford Town Council has agreed to apply to register the town’s former Elm Road School as a community asset, with a view to members of the community trying to buy it.

Two weeks ago it emerged that Norfolk County Council had decided to sell the site, which has been empty since 2013.

A town council planning meeting was held on September 11 and the idea was first put forward to register the site as an asset, to enable local groups and organisations a period of time to register an interest in using the site. The recommendation has now been agreed by full council.

A community asset would transfer management and ownership of public land and buildings from its owner (usually a local authority) to a community organisation to achieve a local, social, economic or environmental benefit.

Thousands of buildings and spaces across England, such as swimming pools, town halls, libraries and parks, have all been taken on and successfully managed by community organisations for the benefit of their local community.

Thetford town councillor Terry Jermy said: “We were surprised by how quickly Norfolk County Council wanted to sell the site. We expected it to be turned into a disabled person’s centre and two weeks before it was supposed to go through it changed.

“We have the forms to fill in for the site to be an asset and if accepted it puts the blocks on Norfolk County Council not to sell for six months.”

There is a risk that the council could sell the site at auction before the asset application is accepted, but Mr Jermy is hopeful that will not happen.

He said: “Ultimately it’s not the time to say exactly what should happen on the site but one thing being discussed is the demand for certain types of housing.

“The worry is properties being put on the site for profit rather than what the community needs. Such as one and two bed houses for the young and older community.”

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