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Big step forward for Worlingham Community Facility project

PUBLISHED: 09:00 25 June 2016

The former Worlingham Primary school on Rectory Lane.

PHOTO: Nick Butcher

The former Worlingham Primary school on Rectory Lane. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

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There is "light at the end of the tunnel" in a long-running campaign to bring a community centre to Worlingham, the group behind the scheme has said.

Their bid to dispose of playing field land on the site of the old village primary school has been recommended for approval - two years after it was first submitted.

Wendy Summerfield, from the steering group leading the bid, said: “This is the final bit that just needs to be rubber stamped by the Secretary of State.

“It has taken us the best part of two years to get it through, but now we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

The Worlingham Community Facility already has planning permission and will see the old Worlingham Primary School building in Rectory Lane knocked down to build a community centre and 15 homes.

And now the steering group behind the proposals has finally been notified their application to dispose of the playing field has been recommended for approval under Section 77 of the Schools Standards and Framework Act 1998 by the Education Funding Agency.

The steering group had to demonstrate that there was already adequate provision of sporting facilities in the local community, and that no other groups needed the green space around the old school building for sporting purposes.

It is expected to be ratified by the Secretary of State in the coming weeks, at which point the group can start looking for a developer, or developers. Work can also then begin on transferring the site from Suffolk County Council.

“We’ve jumped through so many hoops to get to where we are,” said Mrs Summerfield. “But once it’s ratified it will be all systems go to get Suffolk County Council to work on how they are going to transfer the land. It’s very, very good news.”

The plan has long had the support of both Waveney MP Peter Aldous and district councillor and trustee of Worlingham Community Facility Norman Brooks. He said: “It’s a very big hurdle to jump over and we’re absolutely delighted. Now we can start getting things done at long last.”

The new facility will have a large hall, meeting rooms, an office, kitchen, licensed bar and parking.

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