PHOTO UPDATE: Tesco begins work to build �1.5m Sheringham community centre

The first turf was turned today to signal the start of work funded by Tesco on a �1.5m community centre that is part of the deal that will see its controversial supermarket built next year.

At 9am, there was a turf-cutting ceremony on the site at Holway Road, on the site of a demolished bungalow called Holly End, next to the former Hilbre School.

The event featured former mayor Mac McGinn, who was instrumental in the opening and running of the youth centre on Cromer Road, which later became Sheringham community centre.

Mr McGinn was a youth and community officer in Sheringham in the 1960s, and worked hard to press for the youth centre, which was affectionately known as the Teen and 20 Club.

In 1968, he was present at the turf cutting ceremony, and on February 5 1969 the centre opened - with Mr McGinn running it for 25 years until his retirement.


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The former youth centre, which is still being run as a community centre until the new one is open, will be demolished by Tesco to make way for its controversial supermarket.

Mr McGinn said: 'There's some sadness, but it isn't really fit for purpose. The new community centre will be state-of-the-art and a great asset for Sheringham - as long as the community makes it viable by using it.'

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The long-serving town councillor was joined by long-time Tesco supermarket supporter Judith Miller, from Priory Road in Sheringham, who took the controls of the digger to turn the turf.

She said: 'The reason I supported the supermarket is that there are so many young people in the town and shopping was expensive. After such a long haul, it's very exciting to get to this point.'

Mrs Miller added: 'The new purpose-built centre will encourage more groups to get involved in local activities and will support both young and old in a variety of interests which will provide a real boost to our town.'

The community centre will take about eight months to build. Demolition will then start on the Cromer Road building before work starts on the new supermarket.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that Sheringham Town Council had struck a deal with Norfolk County Council to buy the freehold for the new centre for �173,000.

The agreement, which followed county council demands for a higher figure, was crucial in paving the way for work to begin on building the 6,000sq ft, two-storey building.

Tesco agreed to fund the community centre but - like the existing centre - it would have been owned by the county council.

The town council currently pays a peppercorn rent to the county council to lease the Cromer Road community centre.

But town mayor Doug Smith said: 'Since the summer we've been negotiating with the county council, which has refused to extend the lease for the the new centre beyond 2019 on the current basis.

'Allowing for the time to construct the new building, it would leave six years for the lease to expire, after which we would be charged a commercial rent - in today's money �20,000 per year. This would be totally unsustainable.

'Effectively the town would lose its community centre.'

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