‘This is really good news’: Sale secures future of Aylsham Drill Hall

Aylsham Drill Hall has been sold to the town council for �185.000. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Aylsham Drill Hall has been sold to the town council for �185.000. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The future of community groups in Aylsham has been secured after the town council completed the sale of their closure-threatened meeting place.

Aylsham Town Council has purchased the town's Drill Hall from Norfolk County Council for £185,000 after the local authority confirmed it no longer wanted the Cawston Road building.

The hall is used by the town's scouts, cadets, boxing club, a nursery and many other local groups including Aylsham Community Gym.

The town council borrowed up to £250,000 from the Public Works Loans Board, repayable over a 16-year period, to pay for the purchase, fund repairs and upgrade the kitchen and toilets.

Aylsham Community Gym treasurer Janet Bower said: 'This is really good news. If the venue had shut it would have probably meant we would have had to close as well, as there's no other venue in Aylsham big enough to house us.

'We hold four sessions a week at the hall, and our membership has increased from about 30 when we started nearly six years ago to 110 now.'

The town council was advised by Norfolk Property Services in June 2015 that, as part of a 'reorganisation of its business activities', it was consulting on a proposal to cease activities at the Drill Hall.

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Apart from NPS offices, the building also consisted of a large community hall and a boxing gym used by several groups throughout the week. The town council was approached by these groups requesting the authority buy the hall. And the building was registered as an Asset of Community Value as defined by the Localism Act 2011 thus protecting the building for community use.

Aylsham town clerk Sue Lake said: 'The town council received many approaches from both individuals and groups requesting that the hall be saved. We took all these requests into consideration and felt the hall was a vital part of the social life of the town.'

The next stage is for the building to have an update including new kitchen and toilet facilities.

Aylsham In Bloom is already working on the outside of the building with the cubs under the Royal Horticultural Society's programme, Greening the Grey.

Does your group use the hall? What does this news mean to you? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk