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Council deal could see Swaffham building reopened as a community hub

Two councils are working on a deal which could bring a key Swaffham building back into use for local services.

The proposed deal, yet to be finalised, is an asset swap which would see Swaffham Town Council take ownership of the Green Britain site in exchange for Breckland Council being handed the five-acre Days Field site.

The Days Field site on New Sporle Road already has planning permission for 51 homes following an outline planning application from the town council.

The Green Britain Centre site at Swaffham before its sudden closure
The Green Britain Centre site at Swaffham before its sudden closure

However, the council are prepared to swap that site with the intention of creating a building as a hub for a range of local services.

The Green Britain Centre site has remained vacant since January 2019.

It was marketed by Breckland for six months at an asking price of £2,950,000 freehold or £250,000 lease rental per annum.

And after the final deadline for bids passed in August, Breckland has now confirmed that its "preferred bid" has been submitted by the town council.

Jill Skinner, Swaffham Town Council mayor, said: "We’re delighted to be frontrunner to take over this building and we have a vision of making it a one stop shop for a variety of local services.

"We’ve begun preliminary discussions with a number of our potential partners who may be interested in offering services from the site in the future and we hope that it will be open to the public again in 2020.

“The people of Swaffham should be assured that before any deal is concluded, we will hold extensive public consultation to detail what we have in mind.

"Nothing will be signed until we are absolutely sure that we can deliver a viable project that will meet the needs of our growing town.”

A spokesman for Breckland said options are still being considered including the potential for housing.

And it is hoped an 'open day' consultation event will be held, concluding with a public meeting.

Ian Sherwood, Breckland councillor for Swaffham, said: "This is great news; councillor Ed Colman and I have worked with both Swaffham Town Council and Breckland Council to get to this point,and this is a great opportunity to ensure this iconic building is kept for use by the local community.

"During the local election campaign in May, local residents expressed a view that they would like the Green Britain Centre to be kept in some form of community use and this is an opportunity to ensure this happens.

"This also opens the doors for a number of other potential opportunities to hopefully fall into place for the benefit of local residents.

"Working together as local councillors at town and district level can achieve so much more for our town and I applaud those Swaffham town councillors who can see the potential of achieving something worthwhile for our town for years to come."

Paul Hewett, executive member for contracts and assets at Breckland Council, said: "This deal is a very exciting prospect as it would make the Green Britain Centre a useful resource to the public once again, restore the turbine as a visitor attraction, and release currently unused land in Swaffham for potential future development."

Both councils are now undertaking the processes to ensure the project is deliverable by spring 2020.

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