Plans for new Bungay community centre to be submitted

REVISED plans for a long-awaited new community centre for Bungay are set to be submitted for planning permission in the next few weeks.

After many false hopes and set-backs for the project over the past few years those behind the bid to replace the out-dated premises in Upper Olland Street are making no predictions about the success of the latest thrust – but if it does come about it will include the plan for a new children’s play park at the same site – the old grammar school field in St John’s Road.

Martin Evans, chairman of the new community centre project which has been working diligently to try to make it happen, said: “The town has seen so many consultations about the new centre, but we now believe we have the opportunity to have a building to be proud of, so despite the difficult economic climate we are going for planning permission.”

It means a scaling down of the previous plan, which was costed at �4 million – the revised one will need to be under �2 million to stand a chance of funding.

Mr Evans said: “We believe we will have an excellent mix of community building and enterprise offices (effectively starter units for small businesses), and including the children’s play park. We have an agreement with Suffolk County Council to build the centre on the grammar school field.

“With the delays over funders, who are becoming more scarce, we believe the play park could go in ahead of the new building. The county council has the money to go ahead with that.”

Architects OWL Partnership are drawing up the revised plans for the new centre, which will now not include provision for a nursery because the Beehive Nursery, currently using the present centre, it to move out to a new location shortly. It does mean there is the opportunity for more letting spaces at the present hall.

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The new move has come about following a �75,000 study through Coin Street Consultants and Community Builders, with which the project team has been working to develop the new plan and a sustainable business plan for the centre.

Mr Evans said: “It is as hopeful as anything can be in the current climate. Getting planning permission is seen as a positive step.”

David Wuyts, chairman of the current community centre committee, said: “We are going for full planning approval, without the nursery but with the business units and the play park. It was always the intention that the play park would be part of the deal. The plan will be submitted in the next few weeks.”

To help highlight the support for the project a petition has been set up in the town which has already attracted over 300 signatures. It will run till the end of the month.

“There is a lot of support and we hope the petition will help to clinch it. We have been working for a new centre since I became chairman in 1994 and we are absolutely determined to get it done,” said Mr Wuyts.

The petition can be signed at a number of places in the town, including The Chocolate Box and the community centre.