Norwich hall will remain a community asset insist new owners

The Royal British Legion's Jubilee Hall in Aylsham Road, Norwich which has been sold. Photo: Bill Sm

The Royal British Legion's Jubilee Hall in Aylsham Road, Norwich which has been sold. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

The Royal British Legion's Jubilee Hall has been sold - but the Norwich building will remain a community asset its new owners have vowed today.

Veterans and users of the Aylsham Road-based club had been battling to keep it running since its closure was announced in 2013, with Legion bosses saying that to keep it open would pose an 'unacceptable risk' to charitable funds.

The building has now been purchased by Christian entrepreneur Graham Dacre's Lind Trust but charity bosses say they have not only 'secured' the future of the site but added it would be 'available for the local community to use' once it has been refurbished.

Mr Dacre said: 'The trustees have bought it with a view to it remaining in active community use but it will require some upgrading before then.'

Gavin Wilcock, a trustee of the Lind Trust said: 'We at the Lind Trust are delighted to have played a part in saving Jubilee Hall.

'It has been a great community resource over the last 30 years. We hope it will be used by the community and other charitable groups for many years to come.'

An open day to seek the views of organisations and community groups in the area is to be held in the coming weeks regarding the future use of the building.

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General the Lord Dannatt, patron of the Royal British Legion in Norfolk, said: 'Working with the Lord Lieutenant, Richard Jewson and the MP for Norwich North, Chloe Smith we were determined to find a way to of keeping this valuable asset as a benefit to the local community.

'Along with many community groups who campaigned hard we all pulled together to find a solution. With the support of Norwich City Council we were able to gain some valuable time to work out the best future for Jubilee Hall.

'I'm delighted the Lind Trust has stepped in and purchased the hall and, after the work is completed, will make it available once again for full community use.

'There is still considerable work to do in managing the hall efficiently and making sure it is financially viable but this is an exciting step forward and I would like to thank all those who have been involved in this project so far.'

Steph Talbot, branch secretary of the Norwich Branch of the Royal British Legion, which is currently holding its meetings at the Phoenix Centre in Mile Cross, said she was heartened by the news and hoped to return to the building in the future.

She said: 'The Lind Trust are going to take about six months to refurbish it but we're hoping that we will be able to go back there and hire a room for future meetings because, as I understand, its going to be for community use.

'I'm happy its gone for community use rather than being taken down because that's what the campaign was all about. We wanted it to go to someone who would still allow that kind of use.'

The hall was expected to close on January 1 2014, as the branch could no longer continue to operate it, as they could not afford the monthly outgoings.

But it was granted a stay of execution after city councillors applied to get the social club listed as an asset of community value under the Localism Act. That application was successful, giving those involved in the campaign to save it, which was backed by the Norwich Evening News, some breathing space.

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