Community centre plans approved

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A social lynchpin in Mildenhall will be given a massive revamp after plans for a new community centre were 
appproved.

The facility will replace St John’s Community Centre as part of plans by developer Orbit Housing to build 20 homes on the site.

The new centre will be owned and managed by 
Keystone Development Trust, which runs the existing building.

It will be funded by income from two three bedroom 
market rented properties which form part of the development.

There will also be 18 
affordable homes including nine two bedroom, seven three bedroom and two four bedroom.

The plans were 
unanimously appproved by councillors on Forest Heath District Council’s development control committee on Wednesday.

After the meeting, vice chairman Andy Drummond said: “The exisiting community service is past its best unfortunately so it’s a good idea.”

His comments were echoed by Parish and District Cllr Tony Wheble, who represents the Great Heath ward and is a member of the planning 
committee.

He said: “The centre needs a lot of work and the district council is not in a position to financiallly do it.

“This way we will get a new centre but at no cost to the council.

“It’s used quite a bit by 
different organisations so it means a lot to them and it’s ideal that it’s there.

“It’s a very central piece of the St John’s community.”

Despite bing smaller than the current facility, the new building will have a large single room capable of holding meetings and events for up to 50 people.

There will also be a smaller room that can be used for group meetings.

Orbit consulted with the public last November before submitting a 
planning application.

Council officers decided not to pursue £274,508 in 
community funding from the developer, which argued the scheme ‘would not be viable’ with such contributions.

The figures equated to £101,835 for open space and social Infrastructure as well as £154,232 for education, £12,181 for early years and childcare, £4,320 for libraries and £1,940 for waste.

In a report to the 
committee said: “Each application must be considered on its own merits and as such,
 officers do not consider that this approach would set a precedent for future applications.”

Environmental Health recommended that the centre operate between 8am and 10pm as it will be close to three of the proposed houses.

The site is owned by the district council and the land will be transferred to Orbit.