Scheme for children’s play centre at former RAF Coltishall abandoned
A former RAF technician's ambition to open a children's play centre looks to have been grounded after funding was refused for the project.
Father-of-two Neil Gray had devoted more than three years and £40,000 of his own money to set up the business at the old RAF Coltishall base.
The Runways play centre was set to occupy a former gymnasium on the site of what is now Scottow Enterprise Park.
The play facility would have been close to the village of Badersfield, the civilian community which moved into former airbase homes.
Mr Gray had been stationed at the airbase for two years, before it closed in 2006.
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The gymnasium is bounded by a swimming pool building and a large playing field at the enterprise park, which is owned by Norfolk County Council.
However, difficulties securing funding, the cost of restoring the building and installing a heating system have now scuppered the scheme.
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Mr Gray, who now works as a civilian technician, said: 'Understand-ably I was very upset about the loss of funding.
'I have been working on the project for over three years and have sunk a huge amount of time as well as my own money into it.'
He added: 'The building needs a considerable amount of investment to bring it up to a usable standard, including the installation of a new heating system which came to around £125,000.
'I approached the council about paying for this, and was told that the best they can do is reduce my rent.'
Planning permission had been granted for the proposal last year by North Norfolk District Council (NNDC).
Aimed at infant and primary school age children, the play centre would have been split over three levels with aviation themed equipment.
A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: 'We have tried to be as helpful as we can to Mr Gray by reserving the building he was interested in for a number of months and are sorry to hear the funding for his business has not materialised.
'At any one time we have a number of active inquiries from businesses and not all of them come to fruition.'
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