A 20 year fight to develop a new village hall in Dersingham is a step closer to being won following the allocation of vital lottery funding, community leaders say.
Building work on the long-awaited village centre is now expected to begin later this year after a £550,000 grant to the scheme from the Big Lottery Fund was confirmed.
Parish council chairman Sue Payne said she was “delighted” by the announcement, which came four months after the final bid was submitted.
She added: “It’s a huge relief.”
The grant provides just over half the money needed for the development, for which the parish council has also committed £130,000.
Local fundraising efforts are continuing, including an Easter family fun event scheduled for next Saturday, April 8, and a race night at the village’s social club on April 21.
An afternoon tea dance was also held to raise funds for the project at the weekend.
And officials are also hopeful of securing grants from other sources towards the scheme.
The facility is intended to replace the current St Nicholas Church Hall, which will be partially demolished to make way for it.
The front facade of the existing building, and the roof that is visible from Manor Road will be retained.
Mrs Payne said: “It’s huge for the village. For the past 20-odd years, we’ve been trying to get a new village hall. We looked and looked and there were no sites available and we couldn’t afford to buy any land and fund a building.
“The church offered us this site a few years ago and that’s when it started in earnest.”
The new centre will offer a main hall capable of seating 160 people, plus an adjacent hub that can be opened up to provide extra capacity, as well as separate meeting rooms.
Officials believe the layout will allow more than one event to take place at the site at any one time.
Mrs Payne said: “People love the church hall, but it’s limited in how people can use. It was built over 100 years ago for a much smaller population.”
The council expects building work to begin in late summer or early autumn and open in the latter half of next year.