Funding row erupts with ASDA over Harford Community Centre in Norwich

Ian Wells and Lynda Thain outside the newly built Harford community centre. Asda store are not suppl

Ian Wells and Lynda Thain outside the newly built Harford community centre. Asda store are not supplying the needed funds to finish the building.PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Residents have said they feel let down by Asda after the supermarket giant has offered only half the funds required to fully fit out a community centre at Hall Road.

Part of the planning requirements for the company to construct its new store at the retail park was that it provided a new community centre.

But 18 months down the line, trustees have been left with a shell of a building, as legal wrangling continues over the cost of the internal fitting.

While Asda has capped its budget at £70,000, cost estimates on behalf of Norwich City Council set out more than £162,000 is required.

Ian Wells, centre manager of Harford community centre, said there had already been delays of 18 months after Asda failed to provide a certificate of practical completion for the community centre. Norwich City Council then put in notice to take on the lease, which triggered negotiations over the internal fit.

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The deadline for the negotiations expired on Friday.

'Asda has said they are only going to supply one toilet for men and one for ladies with no dedicated disabled toilet,' said Mr Wells.

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'One toilet for a community centre that size is not appropriate. There would be no finished flooring – just concrete – and no suspended ceiling, just bare girders as it is at the moment.

'There would be no heating, no store cupboard for the equipment, and a basic kitchen with no white goods.

'What they are suggesting isn't fit for purpose.

'I know a lot of the groups just feel if this is the situation they won't be able to use the centre.

'We are really disappointed because we believed Asda was a community-based supermarket that wanted to look after the community.

'They have built their nice new supermarket, and now are not supplying what was laid down in the planning application.'

Michele Neave, trustee of South Harford and Tuckswood Community Association, added user groups were 'devastated'.

'Supermarkets trade on their community care, and it is shameful what Asda are doing,' she said.

'We can't negotiate with people who 18 months down the line say they only have half the budget.'

A spokesman for Asda said it was 'in the process of arranging the fit-out of the community centre' and hoped it would be open to the public in the coming months.

'The community centre was built prior to the store opening and it was fully DDA compliant,' they added.

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