Environmental centre was 'too difficult' to convert into leisure facility, says council

The Green Britain Centre, Swaffham, is to close Picture: Ian Burt

The Green Britain Centre, Swaffham, is to close Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

A councillor has explained how a former environmental centre would have been "too difficult" to turn into a leisure facility after selling the building to an international company.

Breckland councillor Paul Hewett.
Photo: Breckland Council

Breckland councillor Paul Hewett. Photo: Breckland Council - Credit: Archant Ltd.

At a virtual Swaffham Town Council meeting on January 13 Breckland Council's executive member for contracts and assets, Paul Hewett, felt as if he "owed" it to the town's mayor and members of STC to explain the recent decision to sell the Green Britain Centre (GBC) to an unnamed business last week.

During the meeting, Mr Hewett spoke of how difficult it would have been to transform the centre into a leisure facility due to its size and the cost of converting the building.

The Conservative councillor said: "We’re disappointed that after more than 18 months of discussions with STC, we were unable to make the proposed land swap work.

“It’s also frustrating for those who spent hundreds of hours and to Jill Skinner [mayor] for the absolute personal commitment you have made in person and online."

The councils had been in talks for more than 18 months working on the proposed asset swap with land at Days Field, with talks of turning the centre into a leisure facility for Swaffham.

But Mr Hewett said that when it was approached by an international company over the festive period, who offered to bring 65 new jobs to the region, it was "too great to miss".

He added: “We’re delighted to have secured a great deal to sell the GBC, which will not only generate funding for reinvestment back into Swaffham but will bring a brand new business to Breckland and create dozens of new jobs.”

The business, which is not being named at this stage while it engages with its staff over the move, is in the green industry and manufactures products and sells around the world, according to the council.

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The firm will bring 25 existing staff to the site initially, with plans to create more posts in the next few years.

Councillors spoke of their "disappointment" the land swap deal did not come through but would now seek new options for Swaffham's leisure provision.

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