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Abandoned school site will be a much needed community centre

Charles Burrell campus should be signed over to Thetford Town Council on Thursday. They plan to turn the site into a community facility for groups/business/events etc. 

Pictured: Cllr Silvia Armes, Cllr Terry Jermy, Cllr Denis Crawford and Cllr Mike Brindle

Charles Burrell campus should be signed over to Thetford Town Council on Thursday. They plan to turn the site into a community facility for groups/business/events etc. Pictured: Cllr Silvia Armes, Cllr Terry Jermy, Cllr Denis Crawford and Cllr Mike Brindle

An abandoned school site in Thetford will be transformed into a thriving community centre offering jobs, support and leisure to residents.

The lease for the former site of Charles Burrell High School, in Staniforth Road, is due to be taken on by Thetford Town Council, next Thursday.

The committee pursuing the project has been chaired by town councillor Terry Jermy.

He said: “I think it will completely revitalise this side of Thetford.

“We are talking about job creation, training, activities for young people and older residents.

“This side is in the top ten per cent most deprived areas in the UK and combined with that we have very, very few facilities for local residents.”

The council plans to transform the site into a social enterprise providing space for both community groups and businesses.

Research into how the town council can make use of the 12 acre site has included visiting a similar project in Leeds.

Social entrepreneur, Robert Ashton, has been working with the council.

He said: “The project presents a golden opportunity to bring together in one place a range of organisations, each bringing services that compliment each other.

“That makes it easier for local people to learn new skills, gain valuable experience, get local jobs or become self employed, with the expertise they need right here in one place.”

The site includes playing fields, two large halls, classrooms and office space.

Cllr Jermy said a number of bodies had expressed an interest in utilising the school space.

These include an organisation supporting start-up businesses, a community shop, health groups, businesses, sports teams, exercise classes and community groups.

On top of this the school offers facilities, including kitchen space, that Cllr Jermy said could be used to the benefit of Thetford’s residents.

The former Charles Burrell High School site has been empty since July 2013, however is in good condition.

Cllr Jermy said the council had been eager to take the site over from Norfolk County Council to prevent it falling into disrepair due to being unused.

He said: “If the town can vote to sign the lease we hope to be up and running from the beginning of April.

“It’s going to be brilliant, we are very excited.”

 

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