Tesco urged to speed up handover of Sheringham community centre

Tesco is in the firing line for the speed with which it is handling the completion and handover of Sheringham's new community centre.

The town council has secured a �100,000 loan to enable it to buy the centre, which Tesco is building as part of the deal that will see it open a superstore on Cromer Road.

The Holway Road centre and its handover were expected to be finished by now, but could now drag on beyond Christmas.

At the last town council meeting, deputy mayor David Gooch said the hold-ups were 'getting to the point of being ridiculous'.

And, following another meeting designed to get things moving, town mayor Doug Smith spoke of his 'frustration'.

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He said: 'Our solicitor is spending a lot of time and we have an inordinate lot of paperwork being generated for absolutely nothing. Everything has to be transferred from Tesco to Norfolk County Council and then to us.'

The town council agreed to buy the new centre for �173,000 when the county council said it was not prepared to offer a lease on the current peppercorn rent beyond 2019.

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Amid fears that the annual rent would steeple to �20,000 per year, members agreed to provide �73,000 from capital reserves and �10,000 to cover agents' and legal fees. Earlier this month, the Public Works Loan Board handed over a �100,000 loan to make up the remainder of the sum.

Mr Smith said: 'It is guaranteed for a year, but we decided that, in view of the uncertain economic situation, it would be better to take it now.

'The interest rate is just over 2pc and it is repayable over 15 years. It will cost a band D property exactly �3 per year for 15 years. That coincides with what I told the annual meeting in April, when I said it would cost each home no more than the price of a pint of beer per year.'

He said there was 'still no end date' for the community centre. Part of the delay is understood to centre on the development of the access road.

Once it has been handed over, Tesco will begin the demolition of Lockerbie flats, the current community centre and the old fire station, all on Cromer Road, to make way for the supermarket.

'They're not saying an end date for the community centre. I guess we will not be able to purchase it until Christmas. I hope to be in for Christmas. We are already getting lots of enquiries about leasing it.'

Despite the hold-up, Mr Smith added: 'We are very positive. It appears that the building is going to be absolutely splendid. It will be a showpiece building for Sheringham.'

A Tesco spokesman said: 'We have enjoyed working with the town council to develop plans for the community centre, as well as our new supermarket, and hope that the new facilities will provide a focus for the whole community.

'Throughout this process our overriding aim has been to provide the best possible facilities which will meet the needs of the people of Sheringham for many years to come, and we continue to work constructively with the county and town councils to achieve this.'

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