Building work begins on North Runcton hall improvements

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Work has begun to improve access and facilities at a West Norfolk village’s community hall.

Community leaders in North Runcton launched an appeal late last year to raise £100,000 for major renovations to its village meeting place.

Half of the funding was secured through a WREN grant, which has now enabled contractors to move into the School Lane site.

They are building new disabled access and improved kitchen and toilet facilities, which are expected to be completed by mid-September.

Parish council chairman Rick Morrish said: “It’s great to see our vision for this vital community facility moving closer to reality.

“We are extremely grateful for the funding WREN has given us and we’re looking forward to opening to the public.”

The hall was formerly the village’s school, where a young Michael Caine made his first steps into the acting world as a wartime evacuee.

The grant was provided from funds given to WREN by FCC Environmental, through the Landfill Communities Fund.

Ben Walker, WREN’s grant manager for Norfolk, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the North Runcton Village Meeting Place project and pleased our funding will make such a difference to so many groups of people within the locality and beyond.

“We are always happy to consider grant applications for projects that benefit local communities and we’re

looking forward to this one having a positive impact very soon.”

The building has been used in its current form since the school closed in the mid-1980s and officials believe improvements are needed now, because of the level of new housing that is expected to be developed in the area over the coming years.

Up to 1,600 new homes are envisaged in the area around North Runcton and nearby West Winch under current borough council development plans.

A neighbourhood plan for the two villages, which is intended to set out the communities’ vision for future development, has been developed and assessed by an independent examiner.

It could be put to residents in a referendum if it is approved by West Norfolk Council chiefs at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, an extraordinary parish council meeting called to discuss the ongoing dispute with the Seventh Day Adventist church over access rights was held at the village’s scout hut earlier this week because of the project.