Historic former school to become cycle hire hub at National Trust property

Blickling Hall. Picture: Marion Green

Blickling Hall. Picture: Marion Green - Credit: Marion Green

A popular Norfolk National Trust property has transformed an old schoolhouse into a bike hire site for visitors to hire a set of wheels to cycle around the grounds.

Blicking Hall, near Aylsham, in north Norfolk, converted a Grade II listed former schoolhouse into the outdoor activity centre in September to encourage cycling around the reopened property.

And now a planning application has been submitted to Broadland District Council (BDC) to formally change the building’s use.

The application for The Old School, on the Blickling Estate was submitted to the council after the conversion was completed on September 1 - for a subsequent change of use.

READ MORE: Second National Trust house in Norfolk to reopen its doors

It comes after Blickling Hall became the second National Trust house in Norfolk to reopen to visitors in just over five months, after Oxburgh Hall’s reopening.

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Planning documents published on the council’s website describe the 1915sqm site as “statutorily listed Grade-II” having been built in 1868 and “of neo-Tudor design”.

The application would cover the former school and schoolhouse, as well as a separate outbuilding and the land surrounding the site, which is west of the main car park with existing access to the playground and main grounds.

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Stuart Banks, countryside manager at Blicking Hall, who made the application on behalf of the National Trust, wrote: “The school closed in 1984 and was then used as a community hall although this use also ceased some years ago.

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“The school has been used in recent years as an office or meeting room for National Trust staff.

“The schoolhouse has been vacant for a few years but was previously let as a dwelling.”

He added: “This application is for the use of the former school and schoolhouse as a base for cycle hire for those visiting Blickling Estate wishing to cycle.”

There will be no alterations made to the inside or outside of the building and the site will operate from 9am to 5pm with one staff member of staff.

The hire bicycles will be stored within the school building or outbuilding.

Mr Banks said the use would be “low-key in nature” and would not disrupt the historic Blicking Estate, as well as “bringing back to life a heritage asset”, “enhancing the range of experiences” and “supporting the contribution that tourism makes to the local economy”.

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