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Public meeting called - so what next for Sheringham Community Centre?

PUBLISHED: 06:30 28 January 2013

Sheringham's new community centre. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Sheringham's new community centre. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2013

A town council plan to buy a new community centre could be abandoned after members were made aware of the potential cost of running it.

A special town meeting will be held tomorrow to debate the best way forward for Sheringham Community Centre, which has been built by Tesco as part of the deal that will see it open a supermarket on Cromer Road.

Sheringham Town Council has secured £100,000 from the Public Works Loan Board to buy the centre, amid fears that when a lease on a peppercorn rent runs out in 2019, it could revert to a market rate.

The council has since asked Janet Farrow to compile a business plan to outline the costs of running the centre.

And, though the details of the plan have not been revealed, town mayor Doug Smith admitted “all options” would be on the table at the meeting.

They include:

● Going ahead with buying and running the centre on Holway Road

● Renting it at a peppercorn rent for the next six years, then looking again at the options when the rent changes

● Moving the town council headquarters from the town hall at St Peter’s Road to the community centre, then selling or renting out the town hall.

Mr Smith said: “There’s been some discussions among members about the way to go. Can we afford both buildings? Do we still need the town hall?

“We decided that the best thing to do was to draw up a business plan to see if the figures stack up.”

He said there had been “delay after delay after delay” in the hand-over of the community centre, and he hoped that the public meeting would “resolve things one way or another”.

Mr Smith added: “We are very conscious that we need to do the best for the council tax payers of Sheringham.”

The town council agreed to buy the new centre for £173,000 when Norfolk County Council said it was not prepared to offer a lease on the current peppercorn rent - which will transfer from the soon-to-be-demolished community centre on Cromer Road - beyond 2019.

Amid fears that the annual rent would steeple to £20,000 per year, members agreed to provide £73,000 from capital reserves and £10,000 to cover agents’ and legal fees. In November, the Public Works Loan Board handed over a £100,000 loan to make up the remainder of the sum.

Once the new centre has been handed over, Tesco will begin the demolition of Lockerbie flats, the current community centre and the old fire station, all on Cromer Road, to make way for the supermarket.

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