�500k plan launched to overhaul Aylsham pavilion

A �500,000 plan to overhaul Aylsham's ageing sports pavilion aims to open up the under-used building to daytime activities.

Those behind the scheme want to maximise the its use by making it available to more groups and see it become an additional community facility within the town, as it is only currently used as a changing room by sports teams at weekends.

The need to boost the pavilion's standing has been fuelled by the popularity of the two Smile Park play areas, which opened two years ago. Families and youngsters have been flocking to the recreation ground in Sir Williams Lane but have been stumped by the lack of public toilets.

Those behind the Smile scheme struck upon the idea of opening the pavilion to groups and clubs during the day so it could also provide the much-needed facilities to visitors.

And after discovering the National Lottery's Reaching Communities fund - which provides cash for upgrading public buildings - plans are now progressing to refurbish the pavilion.

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Heather Morton, who was one of the parents behind the Smile project and is spearheading the pavilion scheme as a member of the recreation ground committee, is now applying for the �500,000 maximum available through the fund.

She said: 'At the moment the building is being used at the weekend by footballers but not used in the rest of the week. If it was upgraded it would be more efficient. And now the park is better it's generated a lot more interest in that area and become a building that could be made a lot more of.

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'It's occasionally hired out for parties and for private use but the facilities inside are not really good enough to be attracting people and the other thing we need to have is access to toilets.'

Mrs Morton's bid did suffer a stumbling block after it was originally turned down by the Lottery, but this was only due to the stringent way in which the application form has to be filled in. She is now preparing to re-submit her outline bid, which has to be accepted before she can move onto the next stage of putting forward a more detailed plan.

'We have to get through this to submit a proper proposal,' Mrs Morton added. 'We get to hear within three weeks whether we have been successful.'

If the plans move onto the second of the three stages a full consultation will be opened up to neighbours and residents to help guide the project on.

Mrs Morton stressed the pavilion plans were at a very early stage but thought the pavilion's refurbishment would benefit North Walsham.

'It's an unused resource, I think (refurbishing) it would be a boost for the town,' she added.

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