Sneak preview of new �5m Atrium centre at North Walsham High School

Nearly 800 pupils will catch their first glimpse tomorrow of a major new building which is expected to transform school and community life in their north Norfolk town.

Electricians and fitters are today putting the final touches to The Atrium, adjoined to North Walsham High School, which will provide educational, health, cultural and business facilities for 791 pupils and everyone else in the surrounding community.

Light and space are key elements of the two-storey building which features whole walls of glass windows and several large open areas.

And when the new school year begins at 8.30am tomorrow, pupils will start using many of its facilities, including a 180-seat canteen, what is believed to be one of the largest dance studios in Norfolk - at 1,500 sq ft - a cookery suite equipped with gas and electricity, a sound-proofed recording studio and music rooms.

Work on a 200-seat cinema and theatre is still under way and the first public performance is being planned for next month when it is also hoped that an open day will be staged. Facilities also include a number of meeting rooms and a cr�che.

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The school and its partner in the project, the Benjamin Foundation, secured funding for the building from a government scheme aimed at providing multi-use facilities on one site and building began in July last year.

Head teacher Caroline Brooker said: 'I think it's pretty impressive that this large building was delivered on time and on budget.'

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Dominic James, director of The Atrium, added: 'It's a landmark building for north Norfolk and a fantastic resource which North Walsham can feel proud of. It's going to give people new opportunities.'

The school is hoping that a member of the Royal family will perform an official opening in January.

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