Redevelopment plans to put Cromer hall at centre of community

Phil Hall and Sylvie Kilshaw outside the Cromer Community Centre.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Phil Hall and Sylvie Kilshaw outside the Cromer Community Centre.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Ambitious plans to transform a community centre into a fit for purpose entertainment venue have been unveiled.

Town councillor Philip Harris revealed his vision for Cromer Community Centre this week.

He is chairman of Cromer Community Association which is responsible for the Garden Street venue.

The £80,000 project involves installing a new sound and lighting system, ripping out the old kitchen and creating a new entrance and bar area.

But first they have to build a gents toilet at the former Women's Institute hall, which is ideally situated in the heart of the town centre, as it currently only has one ladies loo which also needs refurbished.

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Explaining his plans to turn the centre into a community hub, Councillor Harris said: 'At the moment you can use it for a meeting or something else like that but what we want to try and do is try to change it into more of a music venue and a place where people can look to go out in the evening and enjoy themselves.

'Some of the improvement is to put a new sound lighting system into the main hall so bands can turn up and they will have all the equipment they need; we are looking to convert the kitchen to be a kitchen and bar facility so we can sell alcohol and other things so people coming out can make a whole evening of it; and probably one of the most important things is putting in a gents toilet which will actually mean it's available for everyone.

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'We've had requests for stand-up comedy which is very much the vogue thing at the moment; and then people can hire it for parties and maybe have it for a wedding reception where they can have music and everything on after the celebrations. It would make it a proper community venue.'

The project has already raised around £8500, including £3500 from Cromer Town Council, towards a new heating system.

And further funding applications are planned to North Norfolk District Council's Big Society Fund and the National Lottery for the project which, it is envisaged, will be developed in phases.

Councillor Harris said: 'The total cost of budget we're working around is £80,000. We've already had £3500 from Cromer Town Council which means we can immediately go and put in a new heating system. A lot of people complain about doing keep fit in there, it can be cold laying on the floor if there is no heating.

'We've also had a pledge from the Women's Institute to buy some equipment which they will supply to help upgrade the kitchen.

'What we're looking at doing is putting in an application to North Norfolk District Council through the Big Society Fund to fund the music system so we can start making the hall more viable and then, in the longer term, we are looking at a lottery grant to improve the fabric of the building. But we're obviously looking to businesses in and around Cromer to offer some support and help in some of the small parts of the project.'

The plans emerged following the loss of a number of groups who normally booked the centre, including Cromer Preservation Society which, ironically, folded.

And they are designed to make it a focal point in the heart of the community.

Councillor Harris said: 'Number one on the priority list is to get the heating done and we've got the funding for that so that's going to keep our current clientele there.'

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