�3.8m community campus making good progress

People working on plans to create a �3.8m 'community campus' in Fakenham say they are making good progress which they are confident will not be hindered by another major development in the town.

The EDP reported last year how ambitious plans were drawn up for Fakenham community campus at a prominent site in the heart of the town, where Fakenham Community Centre, the Fakenham Connect building, Fakenham Library and a Scout hut currently stand.

A business case and feasibility report outlined proposals to provide a lively, environmentally-friendly facility which would be used by young people, businesses, pre-school children, elderly and disabled people.

It included plans to improve the cultural offering in Fakenham and even an create an outdoor amphitheatre which could attract tourists and raise the profile of the town.

A key factor now is for Norfolk County Council, North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) and the Scout Association to agree to surrender their leases of the buildings on the site, to enable a new 25-year lease to a charitable trust.

Janet Holdom, chairman of the steering group leading the project, said: 'We need this asset transfer to take place for the project to get off the ground and positive meetings have been held over this.

'In the meantime , we are working hard behind the scenes to set up a charitable trust to apply for funding and we are not far from achieving that. After that we will look to appoint a paid project manager.'

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There were fears that separate proposals, run by NNDC, to allocate land in the north of Fakenham for up to 900 homes and associated community facilities could scupper the community campus project.

Ms Holdom said: 'It is included in these plans to have a community centre in the north of Fakenham and we were worried that this could be a rival project and there is only so much funding to go around.

'However, I attended a recent NNDC planning meeting over the 900 homes and was very pleased to see one councillor bring this very point up without any prompting from us.

'It was suggested that the community centre in the north of the town be a much more low key facility and that the money received from developers building in the north of Fakenham could actually be used on our project.'

She added: 'NNDC's CEO has recently come to Fakenham to discuss the project with us. I believe we have the council's support in principal, which is promising, but we need support of the full council to move things forward.'

A key aspect in future funding bids will be the ability to prove a demand for the community campus.

Lisa Mallett, from the Community Centre Association, a partner in the project, said: 'We have achieved a great deal at the community centre over the last two years, with lots of events taking place, and now we've got to a point where we can't do any more until the project moves on.

'We have been working with young people to see what they want and had tremendous feedback from a survey we sent to Fakenham High School.

'I'm sure all of this will help when we make bids for funding.'

A new website is under construction to engage supporters and promote the project's profile.

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