Ecotech to get major facelift

Swaffham's troubled Ecotech Centre which hit a financial crunch earlier this year has been given a new lease of life as green electricity company Ecotricity stepped in to underwrite the debt and turn its odds around.

Swaffham's troubled Ecotech Centre which hit a financial crunch earlier this year has been given a new lease of life as green electricity company Ecotricity stepped in to underwrite the debt and turn its odds around.

The venue which looks over a 67-metre high wind turbine run by Ecotricity will have its conference facilities enhanced, its café completely refurbished and updated environmental material will be provided.

“We are going to put Ecotech back on the map, turning it into a centre of national excellence,” said Dale Vince, managing director of Ecotricity.

“We are very keen on this centre and decided to give it a new chance, underwriting the debt and paying several hundreds of thousands of pounds to turn it around. The revamped centre will be able to trade again from next spring,” he added.

Under the plans, the centre will reach out beyond Norfolk, luring visitors to Swaffham and the region.

“We are looking to keep the centre open at the weekend,” Mr Vince explained.

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“This is very important. Before it went bust, it was open on weekdays only, which meant that not much money was coming in. Once we bring in new, updated information material, turn into a proper tourist centre and offer enhanced visiting and conference facilities, Ecotech will thrive again.”

The centre has been struggling for five years when debts of more than £100,000 meant that it had to be wound up as a tourist attraction and focus on its educational facilities. In February this year, one of its last major tenants moved out, leaving it without any source of income to sustain it.

“The Ecotech Centre means a lot to us. It's the largest timber frame building in the UK,” said Mr Vince.

“The turbine, which is owned by Ecotricity, is also unique. It has the tallest spiral case in the world and the platform, designed by Norman Foster, is open to visitors. It is the only turbine in the world where people can go up.

“It would have been a real shame to allow such an inspiring place to fall into disrepair. It's for this reason that we stepped in and are now looking to turn into a first-class attraction that will delight many visitors when it re-opens in spring next year,” he added.

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