Fight to save Holt Hall could see it made asset of community value

The fairies take over Holt Hall over the bank holiday weekend to hold their annual Fairy Fair in the

File photo of a fair at Holt Hall. The site has been place for youngsters to enjoy the outdoors for seven decades. - Credit: MARK BULLIMORE

The fight to save much-loved outdoor education centre Holt Hall is set to continue.

Although its owners, Norfolk County Council (NCC), voted to end services and sell the site at a meeting on December 7, the Friends of Holt Hall group are drawing up a business plan in the hopes of having it classed as an asset of community value. 

Nic Hopkins, the Friends' treasurer, said the case for saving Holt Hall was about values, rather than "sentimentality" and a groundswell of support for the centre since the closure was announced showed the public wanted NCC to think again. 

Nic Hopkins, A trustee of the friends of Holt Hall. Picture: Nic Hopkins

Nic Hopkins, A trustee of the friends of Holt Hall. Picture: Nic Hopkins - Credit: Archant

Mr Hopkins said: "You never know, events might even lead to a change of policy in the administration at County Hall, and public opinion may prove to be a powerful influence on county councillors."

An online petition against the site's closure now has more than 5,800 signatures, which Mr Hopkins said was "a massive demonstration to show people see the public interest in saving Holt Hall".

MORE: 'If it's gone, it's gone' - Is it time to halt Holt Hall closure?

If approved by North Norfolk District Council, having the hall classed as an asset of community value would give the friends group the chance to bid to take it on, potentially ensuring its future use in outdoor education. 

Greg Peck, NCC's cabinet member for commercial services and asset management, said the council would consider this bid when selling the hall, but added that any sale would still be made at open market value.

Greg Peck, Conservative candidate for Reepham. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

Greg Peck, Norfolk County Council member for asset management - Credit: Norfolk Conservatives

Mr Hopkins said: "We shall take his advice and further develop a robust business plan, but we are going to do this in consultation with the individuals and organisations who have expressed interest already in partnership ways to take forward an alternative future for outdoor learning at Holt Hall.

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"We are doing our homework, researching and talking, listening and planning, with possible partners, other outdoor learning centres of expertise, users and private individuals, and, we hope, Norfolk County Council."

Holt Hall Environmental & Outdoor Learning Centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Holt Hall Environmental & Outdoor Learning Centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

The Friends are also hopeful the council's children's services department will consider Holt Hall in the third phase of its outdoor learning review. 

In October, the council announced it was no longer able to afford the facility. Cabinet members said it would be better for the council to be an "enabler" of outdoor learning, rather than a provider.

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