Optimism over future of Wells Field Study Centre

Wells Field Study Centre would be valued at �1m but offered to the community for �400,000, it has been claimed.

The statement was made by Wells Area Partnership co-ordinator Ben Francis when he chaired a public meeting aimed at moving forward with a plan to retain the nationally acclaimed centre for educational and community use. These figures have not been officially announced by Norfolk County Council, which was unable to comment on them.

Mr Francis also championed the idea of the Wells Maltings Trust taking the Wells Field Study Centre project under its wing.

The trust includes representatives from the Wells business community, Wells Area Partnership, North Norfolk District Council and Wells Town Council, and was set up last year to drive forward ambitious multimillion-pound development of The Maltings building.

Speaking to an audience which included councillors and representatives of local organisations, Mr Francis said: 'The pricing of Wells Field Study Centre depends on who you talk to, but I've been told it would be valued on the open market for �1m. The head of children's services at the county council told me that they would accept �400,000 from a community group with a strong business plan.

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'I am sure this money could be raised... People think there are no grants available but there are lots; you just need to find someone with the time to find the right ones.'

The county council's cabinet voted in October to sell off Wells Field Study Centre to concentrate resources on the more financially viable centre at Holt Hall.

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Councillors vowed to try to find a buyer who would retain the building for educational purposes, but fears have been expressed that it could be sold to the highest bidder.


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