Norwich community centre could move to Asda site
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016
A community centre which was staring closure in the face just a few years ago is on the cusp of a bright future - and a new purpose built home.
A crunch decision tonight would pave the way for the Harford Community Centre to switch from its current home at Peterkin Road, in Tuckswood, to a new venue at the Asda site in nearby Hall Road.
If Norwich City Council agree to take on a lease for the community centre which the supermarket giant built as part of its multi-million pound development, it would complete a remarkable turnaround in the community centre's fortunes.
Keith Driver, who represents the area on Norwich City Council, and is its cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, said: 'I think it's really good news because when Asda came in and suggested putting the community asset on the site, our first thoughts were for Harford to move into it.
'Their gas and electricity bills are high because [its current home] is uneconomical to run, and if they make the rooms as they want them they can hire them out better, and make more money, and it's better for the community.
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'It's a win-win situation for everybody.'
In 2011, the Evening News reported that the centre was at real risk of closure, which would have made nearly a dozen groups homeless.
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The centre's committee, the South Harford and Tuckswood Community Association, had dwindled from eight to just three volunteers and the future looked bleak. But now, the centre is on the brink of a fresh start.
At a meeting of Norwich City Council's controlling Labour cabinet tonight, councillors will be asked to agree to acquire the centre and land nearby on the Asda site.
The council would take out a 20 year lease on the property and hand it to the South Harford and Tuckswood Community Association to run it.
As part of the planning policies for the former Bally shoe factory, the developer was required to provide the community centre to potentially replace the Harford Community Centre.
Documents which will be before councillors when they make their decision state: 'The outline plans for the new building has been inspected by officers in local neighbourhood services along with the management committee of the Harford Community Centre.
'The building provides a modern purpose built facility which the trustees believe would work well as a community centre. It provides both indoor accommodation and an external area for external play and breakout.
'The management committee agree that if the internal fit out is completed to the required standard it would provide a more modern facility with lower costs to operate to the existing site and that most existing groups who currently use the existing centre could re-locate to the new building.'
The council would pay no rent, but would pay an annual service charge and would be responsible for insurance, plus repair and maintenance, other than inherent defects.
The papers say that the existing community centre is expensive to maintain and needs major roof repairs, so officers are recommending that councillors agree the lease.
If that happens, then the Harford Community Centre would transfer to the Asda site and a decision would have to be taken on what happens to the Peterkin Road building.
No-one from the community centre was available for comment.
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