Hopes raised that empty Norwich community centre could be taken over

Russell Street Community Centre.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Russell Street Community Centre.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Hopes have been raised that a vacant Norwich community centre, which city council leaders say they can no longer afford to run, could be taken on by a group of volunteers.

The Russell Street Community Centre has been empty since 2014, but could now become the first example of Norwich City Council using new powers to hand it over to the community.

Eight groups have visited the 1970s-built centre, off Heigham Street, with a view to taking it over – and one group has been invited to submit a business plan.

The centre closed after the standing-down of the volunteer committee which had previously run it.

Through a process called community asset transfer, the centre could be leased to a community group or volunteer organisation at less than market value, or at a reduced or peppercorn rent, or even rent-free.

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Letters were sent to people living near the centre asking them if they would like to get involved in taking it over and that led to eight viewings and three groups submitting expressions of interest.

Keith Driver, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, said: 'The expressions have been assessed and the groups were invited to attend an informal interview, so that any questions could be clarified by the group and the council. Based on this information, one group has been identified as meeting the requirements of the asset transfer policy and has been invited to submit a business plan.'

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He said he could not reveal the name of the group at this stage.

What do you think? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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