Raiders repeatedly target Norwich community hall building formerly owned by Royal British Legion
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016
The team behind bold plans to transform a Norwich community hall once used by the Royal British Legion said they still hoped to get the building re-opened next year despite it being repeatedly targeted by raiders.
Jubilee Hall was bought in 2015 by the Lind Trust after it closed despite a long-running, hard fought campaign by veterans and users of the centre to keep it open.
Its new owners had promised to keep it available for community use and last year ambitious plans were announced to reopen the building in 2018 as a 'multi-generational community facility'.
But the Aylsham Road-based centre has been targeted by thieves who have stolen lead from the roof as well as squatters and drug users who have forced their way into the empty property.
General the Lord Dannatt, chairman of the trustees of The Norwich Jubilee Centre Charitable Foundation (NJCCF), which was set up to oversee the running of the centre, said: 'There have been five incidents of vandalism, forced entry and theft of lead from the roof.
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'On one occasion squatters, including drug users, were inside the hall for several days and did much damage.'
Following the break-ins as well as the cost of repairing the damage a '24/7 security contract' has been put in place at the site by the trustees of the NJCCF who said they will not be using lead to replace the stolen material.
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Lord Dannatt said: 'The cost of repairs to the roof, cleaning up after the squatters, increased security and grounds maintenance, has added to our financial pressures.'
After taking over the building the NJCCF had a full survey done which revealed £195,000 would be needed to re-open the building safely although the full refurbishment would cost in the region of £625,000.
To date £150,000 has been raised towards the initial costs but they are looking to secure the rest of the money through grants and fundraising.
But despite the challenges, Lord Dannatt said: 'The trustees of the NJCCF remain fully committed to this project and really want to see the Jubilee Centre become a reality for the benefit of the local north Norwich community. On timings, our aim remains to re-open the building all, or in part, as soon as possible next year.'
• Police said investigations were ongoing into reports of break-ins at the site, One person has been arrested.