Bold vision is unveiled for the future of vital Norwich community venue

Jubilee Hall, Aylsham Road. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Jubilee Hall, Aylsham Road. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

It was at the centre of a long-running battle to save it and today, more than a year after it was sold, bold plans for the future of a Norwich community centre can be revealed.

The proposed improvements to Jubiilee Hall. PIC: Submitted by The Norwich Jubilee Centre Charitable

The proposed improvements to Jubiilee Hall. PIC: Submitted by The Norwich Jubilee Centre Charitable Foundation. - Credit: The Norwich Jubilee Centre

Veterans and users of the Royal British Legion's Jubilee Hall had battled to keep it running since its closure was first announced in 2013, with Legion bosses saying that to keep it would pose an 'unacceptable risk' to charitable funds.

The venue was bought last year by the Lind Trust, with its new owners promising to keep it available for the community to use. Now we can exclusively reveal it is hoped the building will reopen as a 'multi-generational community facility' in 2018.

Stewart Blackburn, a trustee of the Norwich Jubilee Centre Charitable Foundation which has been set up to oversee the running of the centre.

He said: 'What we're trying to create is something that is multi-generational and that also meets all elements of the communities' need.

'That's a big demand but its one of the things the building will be able to achieve if it's designed properly and we try to keep that broad vision.'

The plan is for groups of all ages to use and benefit from the centre, which will also be able to be hired out by members of the local community for weddings, funeral wakes and other events.

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Mr Blackburn said: 'The main message is we want to put it back as a building that will provide a heart again.

'We want to keep it at the heart of the community so its available for everyone to use as they used to.'

It is hoped the new-look centre will be ready to open to the public by September 2018 but the charity needs to find £1m to help make that dream become a reality.

About £750,000 was needed for building work, including fixing problems with its leaky roof and modernising the structure, while the rest of the money would be used to furnish it.

General the Lord Dannatt, chairman of the trustees of the foundation, said: 'Once the former Royal British Legion Jubilee Hall has been fully re-furbished by September 1 2018, the new Jubilee Centre will provide a facility across the generations from a nursery to a meeting point for the elderly with so much more in between.

'There is a lot to be done, much money to raise but we have a great team and are on the case.'

The foundation, which also includes entrepreneur Graham Dacre, The Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk Richard Jewson, Norwich North MP Chloe Smith and the police and crime commissioner Lorne Green among its patrons, wants the building to 'become a hub' for veterans as it had been previously.

Mr Blackburn, chairman of Veterans Norfolk, said: 'The Normandy Veterans met there and the British Legion met there and we would like to get that going again and put it back to being at the centre of that sort of activity.'

Mr Blackburn said they were hoping to secure some of the money needed to complete the project from lottery funding but insisted they would also need to fundraise to meet their target.

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