A popular North Lynn community hub is on the verge of a new era today after it was bought by a social housing provider.
Freebridge Community Housing has confirmed it has agreed a deal to buy the North Lynn Discovery Centre with its board of trustees.
And two drop-in sessions will be held at the Columbia Way site in May for local people to have their say on how the site should be developed.
Robert Clarke, Freebridge’s director of housing, said yesterday: “We are really very pleased to have taken over ownership of the Discovery Centre.
“Our focus is now on engaging with the local community to understand what people need and want from the centre, whilst carrying out some much needed improvement works.
“We were keen to buy the centre given its location in an area where many of our homes are located, and over the years has provided an accessible base for many much-needed services, in particular for the young people of West Norfolk.”
Councillor Graham Middleton, one of the centre’s trustees, said the deal was “great news” for both the centre and the wider community.
He said: “Freebridge has an excellent understanding of the role the centre has played in the past and wants to ensure the centre continues to play a vital role in the community in future.
“I’d like to personally thank everyone that has been involved in getting to this stage and I hope that many local people will participate in the consultation events so that they can put forward any ideas they have for the site.”
The sale announcement follows a troubled period for the centre, which first opened in 2002, as officials and staff battled to save it from closure amid continuing financial problems.
In recent months, local police chiefs have admitted that the loss of regular youth activities at the centre has undermined their efforts to combat crime and anti-social behaviour in the area.
Speaking at a meeting of West Norfolk Council’s Lynn area consultative committee on Monday, Acting Inspector Mark Askham said a re-opened Discovery Centre would be a “gem” for the community.
Mr Middleton told the meeting there would be “a new lease of life” at the centre, but warned that public bodies need to do more to ensure it has the resources it needs going forward.
He said: “It was never properly supported financially by other partners in the area. While the charity had enough money to pay people, it didn’t have enough to pay the bills.
“The council are committed to putting investment in. Freebridge are putting up a significant amount.”
Freebridge added that “a number of other involved partners” were also supporting the sale, as well as the council and the trustees.
Dates for the consultation events have not yet been finalised. Officials say they will be confirmed closer to the time.