Recovering drug and alcohol addicts’ drop-in centre in poll position for North Walsham precinct

St Nicholas Court shopping precinct, North Walsham. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

St Nicholas Court shopping precinct, North Walsham. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

A drop-in centre for recovering drug and alcohol addicts looks set to move into North Walsham's shopping precinct's largest and long-standing empty unit.

Plans for the centre and for a church at 1a St Nicholas Court were both approved by North Norfolk District Council earlier this year.

But a church elder confirmed this week that their bid had been rejected by Norfolk County Council which holds the lease on the building.

The unit used to be the home of the county's Connexions service for the North Walsham area until youth service funding cuts led to its closure in 2010.

A spokesman for the Norfolk Recovery Partnership (NRP), which would run the drop-in centre, said as far as they were aware they would be signing the lease, which has six years to run, and he hoped it would be very soon.

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Ian Dallain, of the New Life Church, said: 'Our plans for 1a St Nicholas Court haven't exactly worked out. The council ended up having to decide who they wanted to take on the lease, and unfortunately for us they didn't choose us.'

The church, which currently holds Sunday services at North Walsham High School and has a base in Market Cross Mews, had hoped to move into the building and use it round the week for activities and services.

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'We are of course disappointed but will keep on doing what we do for now, and keep looking out for better premises from where we can serve the town better,' Mr Dallain added.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: 'We're still considering all the options and as soon as we have a more firm resolution, we will be in touch with the interested parties.

'This will be once a new cabinet member with responsibility for property management is appointed.'

The North Walsham drop-in centre would be similar to one recently opened in King's Lynn town centre, according to the NRP spokesman.

NRP is taking over county drug and alcohol treatment services previously provided by organisations such as the Matthew Project, the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust's Alcohol and Drug Service and the Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust.

The Lynn premises enable people in need of support to walk in off the street and ask for help, as well as return there for the

remainder of their treatment.

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