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Plans for community centre at Worlingham Primary School site

06:30 06 April 2012

Worlingham is thought to be the biggest village in Suffolk without a community centre, village hall or pub.

Worlingham is thought to be the biggest village in Suffolk without a community centre, village hall or pub.

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VILLAGERS in Worlingham are being urged to take advantage of an opportunity to create a much-wanted hub for their community.

The need for a community centre, pub or village hall has long been discussed by those in the village, and now a potential chance has arisen to meet this need.

A steering group has formed to try to develop the Worlingham CEVCP Primary School into a centre for the community when the school is moved to the site of Worlingham Middle School, which closes this summer as part of Suffolk’s School Organisational Review.

Now the group is inviting potential groups, organisations or individuals who would like to use the proposed centre to come forward and record their needs.

Steering group chair Wendy Summerfield said: “We are not looking merely for a village hall, we are looking outside the box, anything that the community could possibly have a use for.”

She added: “The parish plan showed that most villagers would like a community facility, so the drive has come from the village itself.

“We are keen to take advantage of this. The majority of people want a pub and hub of the community where people can meet and the elderly can meet and have lunch clubs and coffee.”

Mrs Summerfield added that they were also considering applying to make the premises licensed so serve alcohol in an effort to help make it self sufficient.

An initial meeting about the idea saw 53 people attend, with a steering group of 26 formed to drive the bid forward.

Recently the group has been visiting towns and villages across the region to see examples of successful community centres, such as Uplands in Carlton Colville, and talking with others who are looking to make use of soon to be redundant schools, such as the group responsible for the Halesworth Campus project.

Now the steering group is preparing for a drop-in day to attract potential users, and is hoping to see more high levels of interest.

Adrian Crockett, of the steering group, said: “Members of the steering group will be present to display the facilities currently available and to listen to ideas about how the school building could be used, and possibly developed, to accommodate individuals or groups considering making use of the centre.”

They then hope to put together a business plan to submit to Suffolk County Council, who will decide on the future of the building, which would be available next summer.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “The county council is keen to explore options for community groups to take on and use part or all of Worlingham Primary School when it is closed.

“Any proposals would have to demonstrate local need, community support and have a viable business plan to ensure the facility has a sustainable future. We’re open to having discussions with any groups interested in the future of the site.”

The drop-in session is to be held at the school, in Rectory Lane, from 10.30am to 2.30pm on Saturday, April 14.

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