Virus scuppers plans by charity for furniture store building
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016
A charity has gone back to the drawing board in its search for a new home after its move to new premises fell through.
But chief executive Diana Staines revealed they were unable to proceed, due to factors related to the coronavirus pandemic.
She said: “The cost is one issue. We were on the verge of hearing positive news from a couple of funders and Covid-19 has paused that.
“The other factor is the unit itself. The building has a marvellous double door at the front and and one other window so because of Covid there would have to be mechanical ventilation.”
She added that change-of-use planning permission only allowed them to used the building during office hours because it was in a residential area.
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Whereas before they had two sessions a day, they would probably need multiple ones from 7am to 9pm, seven days a week, with people coming in for shorter periods.
However, she said she remained positive.
MORE: Gymnastics club eyes up empty industrial unit for its new baseCurrently, in Tar Works Road, the only way members could meet and maintain social distance was outside because the buildings were cramped with narrow corridors.
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It meant income had nose-dived with its community transport buses which usually take 16 passengers only able to allow two people on board.
Fees from skills and activities members had also fallen away.
MORE: ‘This is our chance to make life so much better’ - Charity targets furniture store as new £1.7m hubThe charity had had some emergency Covid-19 funding from the National Lottery and Norfolk Community Foudnation of over £100,000 which was helping to plug the gap and also pay for computer tablets that members could use to meet up digitally.
“I think it is fair to say we are in a state of flux,” she said.
“Because of Covid and social distancing getting new premises is even higher up the list so the search goes on and we will get there,” she added.
She also hailed Phil Thompson, the owner of the premises for his patience and support.
Mr Thompson said the building, now hosting Oak Outlet, was on the market.
Better Furniture in Barker Street, Norwich, is still trading and unaffected by the changes in Southtown Road.
He said: “I was quite willing to put my own money into it, and if I could have afforded it I would have given them the building.
“They are a lovely charity. It was Diana’s dream.”